Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Justice for crap writers


So it's deadline for the magazine again .... and I go to ground to get the little treasure written. One day I will have to count the total amount of words I write in one issue; one day when I have been sacked and have the time to do that kind of thing.

So, just to keep my blogging hand in, may I say that I am COMPLETELY looking forward to attending the Crime and Justice Festival at the Convent in Abbotsford this weekend. What a reward at the end of a slogging week.

One of the sessions I am sitting in on is with crime writer, Peter Temple. He is South African born but has lived in Australia for a long time. I know this not because I have to google him but because he was one of our principal lecturers at RMIT when I was studying journalism. Even now, as I write about him, I feel ill. After all, is that the correct spelling of 'principal' in this instance?

He was the only lecturer who ever genuinely tested me, who I ever really tried for. He humiliated and terrified us and the red pen marks that covered essays after he'd marked them looked like he'd cut his wrists during the session. Often he probably wanted to.

It was not just me either. He wrote sarcastic and downright mean comments on many people's work. For me, once, he gave me 10 per cent and wrote 'charity mark' next to it. Bless him.

Unfortunately he is one helluva writer. If you see his novels - The Broken Shore for example - pick it up. It's got nothing to do with whether you like crime genre. You just have to like good writing. It makes me sick. Why can't he be lousy? It would make it simple then to hate him.
Instead I look back on my studies with him and am very grateful. I envy his talent but know a large part of his success lies in his commitment to perfection and attention to detail. This commitment can be tough to live with when you're 19 years old and just discovering the joys of beer in various sticky pubs around Swanston Street but, in the long run (yawn yawn), apparently it is essential. At least, in later years, I discovered a little weakness the great man did have. It gives me relief to know he is indeed human. We all end up with a little red pen on some aspect of our lives.

3 comments:

Dreamweaver said...

Well, it seems he directed his sadism towards students into his writing.
I am wary of crime writers.
Low vibrational.

Mrs Underhill said...

Hmmm, I know what you mean but, with each book, he's going further and, in fact, moving away from crime in many ways. That's why reviewers are finding him harder to classify. There's a lot of poetry in his work. I think that's fair to say. And, more and more, deep exploration of people's inner everyday pain and social issues like life as an Aborigine in Oz. But, YES, students are now safer in many ways with him behind the desk. Of course, again in recent conversation with fellow old student, we agreed he got the best results out of us. Life is complicated hey?

Dreamweaver said...

Inspiration through Fear - A novel by Mrs Underhill.