Irvine Welsh on writer’s block
Irvine Welsh made it big at 35 with the release of his first novel, Trainspotting. Before that, he’d worked as an apprentice TV repairman, for Hackney council and as a property wheeler-dealer. As an adaption of his third novel Filth is released in cinemas, he tells IdeasTap about writing female characters, about not having a literary agent and why creativity is analogue…
You did a long line of jobs before Trainspotting. How did you deal with the sudden attention?
In retrospect there’s always things you would do differently. But by and large I don’t think I handled it that badly.
I got up on Mondays and kept working; doing what I had been doing for years. I enjoyed the distractions, but I didn’t get lost in them. I was getting f***ed up and making an arse of myself before I was famous, so fame helped straighten me out a bit to be honest.
How do you create characters that are very different from yourself?
People get very bogged down with the practicalities of this. Guys get upset when writing a female character because they don’t know women’s clothing. Women worry about how a man shaves. You don’t have to worry about all that.
All characters have the same impulses, despite gender, class or race. Writing’s about finding the human being and focusing on that; everything else will come.