Salman Rushdie and the sea of ideas


It was a pleasure listening to Salman Rushdie earlier this week in London, on his latest book Two years, eight months and twenty-eight days. Some things he said that I noted down (I am paraphrasing most of it):

On there being a lot of pop culture in the book: ‘I wanted to write a contemporary book. You then need to know what people are thinking about, and talking about, and what they like.’

On the advice he gives to students of writing: ‘One thing I tell students is to try and get into as many different kinds of rooms to hear as many different kinds of conversations as possible. Because otherwise how will you find things to put in your books?’

On New York: ‘One of the great things about the literature of New York is that it’s the literature of arrival. There aren’t a lot of people in New York who have been born and brought up there’ – the point being the richness of stories, and kinds of people, that such a landscape offers to the writer.

These are all beautiful points for anyone working on building a brand to think about: what matters to your audience in the here and now (not according to research done last year)? What kinds of new experiences can you give them – and how will you arrive at these ideas if you are chained to your desk most of the time? And finally, how are you catering to the variety of personalities you might want to talk to?

Think about it.

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