Charlie Rose (CR): You've said, famously, that literature is an act against cliches--
Martin Amis (MA): A war against cliches. You know, whenever you write, “The heat is stifling,” or “She rummaged in her handbag,” this is dead freight. And by the way, the war has extended on to another sphere. People who use these moldering novelties like “Seen it, done it,” “Got the T-shirt,” “He went ballistic,” “I don't think so,” “Hello!”--these are dead words. They're heard words.
What cliche is is heard writing, heard thinking, heard feeling. The writer has to look for a way to freshness, and to make it your own.
CR: And what is that process for you?
MA: Well, it's not like you get a cliche and wiggle it around and use synonyms for it. You see plenty of that.
CR: I mean, how do you plumb the creativity to avoid cliches?
MA: The process for me, and this is how I've always worked... [When it comes to] style, you don't take an ordinary paragraph or a decorative paragraph and then give it style. You know, lots of rumble and wow. You don't do it that way. What you're trying to do is be faithful to your perceptions and transmit them as faithfully as you can, but in a language that... I say these sentences again and again in my head until they sound right. There's no objective reason why they're right, they just sound right to me. So it's euphony, sometimes it's harshness that you want, but it's just matching up the perception with the words in a kind of semi-musical way even if it's atonal.
The YouTube video here.
Martin Amis? “The Information?” Aw-right, Wikipedia to the rescue.
We're all guilty of those “moldering novelties” more often than we think, so repeat after me: Avoid cliches like the plague!
P.S. In Britain, apparently, novelists, poets, playwrights, writers are deemed good enough subjects for television interviews. When was the last time you saw a Filipino literary figure, major or minor, command airtime on local TV?