Industry, application, technique

Angela Carter paraphrasing Michael Moorcock’s advice on how to write fiction:

Industry, application, technique. How do you acquire industry and application? By doing it. What about technique? You acquire that by reading. If you want to write a novel, you really ought to read one, first. Read several. Read history, geography, anthropology. Read ancient epics, myths, romances. Read cigarette cards, the backs of cereal packages, yesterday’s newspapers. [Moorcock] himself emerges as an omnivorously well-read man, but the inexhaustible curiosity that lies behind all that is something that can’t be acquired, is something you are born with.

Carter adds:

He doesn’t give anything away, because it isn’t possible for him to do so. There are no real trade secrets. Fiction is as individual as a fingerprint, even if all the history of storytelling is somehow involved in every story.

(Angela Carter, review of Colin Greenland’s Michael Moorcock: Death Is No Obstacle, 1991)

No trade secrets: learning is by doing. By doing the work that’s yours alone to do, you commune with all the rest.

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