Confessions of a literary fraud
My day job involves a lot of clerical work. I have come to realise that there is a curious assumption made about people who work in clerical roles; that somehow, perhaps through psychic ability or secretive organisations, we all know each other. Therefore, when asked to do something that involves contacting other people outside our own organisations, we don’t need to be told who to contact, or how, or sometimes what organisation they work for. It is assumed we entered the role with that knowledge in place.
A similar assumption operates for writers. We all know each other, and we’ve read everything. In my experience, writers are generally well read. But there are only so many hours in the day. Nobody can read everything, let alone read everything and get on with their own writing.
So you read what you can, and you bluff the rest. And you hope nobody catches you out.
For your delight, edification, and my own embarrassment, here are my embarrassing literary secrets that would shake your faith in me as a writer.
- Despite my deep interest in dystopian societies, I only read 1984 this year, I have just started Brave New World and I have never read Lord of the Flies.
- I list The Three Musketeers as one of my favourite books, even though after six attempts, I’ve still only got half-way through it (the first half is really good…
- Similar to the above, I count myself as a “fan” of Dostoevsky, despite only reading one of his books (and I considered myself “a fan” before that…)
- I am vocally critical of authors and book series that I have never read.
- Thanks to a handful of quotations, pop culture knowledge and BBC adaptations, people assume I’ve read far more Dickens and Shakespeare than I actually have…
- I am extraordinarily ignorant of my own genres, having read little to any of it.
- I have never read Lord of the Rings or The Chronicles of Narnia.
They say confession is good for soul. So join me, confess your literary secrets, subvert the expectations that people have of us as well-read and of exquisite taste.