Welsh: Finishing books like ‘flushing the toilet’

Irvine Welsh and John Niven. Pic: davidxgreen.com

Irvine Welsh and John Niven. Pic: davidxgreen.com

Beginning to write a book was like having constipation, Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh told an audience at the Stoke Newington Literary Festival this week.

He said: “Writing a book is like doing a shit basically. First, you are constipated, then you get it out and think: ‘Thanks God for that!’ and so it is gone. You flush it away.”

“Every time I read the book back I think it is terrible”, he added.

Welsh said he felt “messed up” in his 20s and it took him a long time to find out what he wanted to do. Welsh used to develop properties in Stoke Newington in his early years.

“I discovered I was a writer almost by accident. Things happen to you when you are ready for them,” he said during his onstage interview by fellow Scottish writer John Niven.

Scottish origin played a big role in Welsh’s creative development.

“Storytelling is an old celtic skill. Scottish tales and stories are very performative. I wanted to replicate that great legacy.”

“The idea of creativity became a big holy grail these days”, Welsh added “There was no money in the arts when I started out.”

“Teds, mods, hippies, punks – they made this country very unique. The 60s and the 70s was like a big party for British culture. Then globalization kicked in and destroyed it all”.

Welsh also criticized today’s culture of online sharing. “Everything is accessible on YouTube too quickly. We struggle to incubate a little bit of space in between we share something, when we don’t know anything about it.”

The renowned writer moved to America four years ago but he said he missed being in the UK.

“I miss keeping in touch with people. England has got this unique sensibility. The news feeds are so stupidly boring in the US. And I miss the fucking sports!”

Irvine Welsh. Pic: davidxgreen.com

Irvine Welsh. Pic: davidxgreen.com

“Do your own thing. Be yourself”, Welsh told the audience.

“You’ve got to be prepared to mess up basically”, he added “You learn from your failures but you enjoy success.”

The event attracted local as well as a few national “Trainspotting” fans to Stoke Newington Town Hall.

Jessica Au: "Trainspotting is very close to my heart." Pic: ELL

Jessica Au: “Trainspotting is very close to my heart.” Pic: ELL

A fashion designer Jessica Au, 25, who lives in Dalston but comes from Scotland originally, felt that Welsh’s book “reflected scottishness” and “brought her back home”.

Au said: “I come from Edinburgh, from the part that he is writing about, the rough part. That’s where I grew up so the novel is very close to my heart.”

David Hancock, 52, Head of Risk and PM Functional Lead at TFL, came all the way from Oxford to see one of his favorite writers.

He said: “I read ‘Trainspotting’ 10 years ago and I found it quite gritty.”

David Hancock came all the way from Oxford. Pic: ELL

David Hancock came all the way from Oxford. Pic: ELL

“Having someone of that calibre at Stoke Newington Literary Festival shouldn’t be missed” said local resident Katherine Mengardon, 40, an account director, who previously attended the festival two years ago.

Mengardon felt the festival “had gone up one step” since she last visited.

Stoke Newington Literary Festival is open until Sunday, June 9.

For more information on the events visit the festival website.

To read ELL’s exclusive preview of the festival, click here.

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