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Working Class Writing

Scotland probably has a good proportion of working class writers. But it’s relative. I was reading this article yesterday, and agreeing with it.

I won’t go into the quagmire discussions of what makes someone working class or not. I’m happy to say it refers to the big majority of people. The problem is that without being represented by writers and artists, the mass culture is ignored. It’s a political issue. The discourses that appear in culture are largely middle class, repeating and reinforcing a view of the social world as ‘natural’. In this ‘natural’ disguise, power and money are distributed by the laws of god or nature, rather than through the history of human exploitation.

Great that there are concerted efforts to address. this. Writers like James Kelman spring to mind. There are also many organisations and small magazines promoting working class writing. And obviously, there are those writers and artists like Ken Loach or Alan Bleasdale who, paradoxically, become darlings of the liberal ‘left’.

Given how cheap indie publishing is, it would be good to see the setting up of local working class writing groups that learn the publishing process and have the support to write a novel, a radical history, a book of recipes, whatever. The books could be set for very limited circulation or for wider readerships. A parallel activity is podcasting.

The problem with independent publishing for many people is firstly that they don’t know about it. Secondly, authors with money to spend have a head start in getting their work known because they can afford paying for things like formatting, proofing, editing, cover design, marketing. Addressing these two issues should be part of a campaign to encourage working class writing and reading.

(Yes, I now that there are some working class people who have more money than some middle class people. Some.)

I hope, by the way, that it goes without saying that there are many working class people who are great writers and readers. Some (of us) do not restrict our reading and writing to work with a strong texture of class, but we do insist on the vitality of working class literature. Equally obvious, I hope, is that if a working class people succeed in writing romantic or crime fiction, or scripts for soap opera they should be celebrated. Invariably they will be writing for a working class readership, and you can only do the culture if you’ve got it.

Whatever. I would personally enjoy more radical, experimental work which is loosely ‘working class’.

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