Authors North Meeting: Subhub, Geoffrey Moorhouse and George Orwell.
I enjoyed the meeting very much. In the morning we had a talk about 'Publishing For Profit' or how to make money from websites. The speaker, Miles Galliford from Subhub, was so inspiring and made me think of so many enticing possibilities that for a few moments found myself filled with a sort of capitalist euphoria.
The afternoon event was a talk by the highly regarded and prolific writer Geoffrey Moorhouse. He has written more than 20 books - ranging from travel books to novels. His most recent work THE LAST ORDER is on the dissolution of the monasteries with particular emphasis on what happened to the monks in Durham cathedral and he treated us to a reading of the final chapter. This was rather good and sounded so fascinating I am looking forward very much to reading the whole thing when it comes out in March 2008.
One of the most memorable parts of his talk was when he talked about his inspiration; namely George Orwell and his essay on Politics and the English Language which contained some excellent guidelines for clear writing:
(i) Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
(ii) Never us a long word where a short one will do.
(iii) If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
(iv) Never use the passive where you can use the active.
(v) Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
(vi) Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.
It was a long day but a worthwhile one. I arrived early at the station and so had two hours to watch the citizens of Leeds pass by: United fans yelled and sang drunkenly and aggressively across platforms; and girls, out for the night in scraps of skirts and sequins, giggled as they lurched by on high heels, expanses of flesh goose-pimpling in the cool air. Then, picking their way through all this, like a rogue dark thread in a garish tapestry, was a silent Muslim couple. The girl, in full veil, appeared to be very young because she was led by the hand like a child by her equally timid timid husband. And it is this scene that stays with me - this encounter between two such different worlds exciting neither comment or even, it seemed to me, much awareness of the other.