Saturday, 2 March 2013

Write here, write now

Partly inspired by the talent of a good friend, I suddenly had an urge the other day to try writing a short story.  I used to write a lot as a kid, and my favourite part of my favourite lesson at school was when we had to write ‘compositions’ in English.  I read a lot too, loads more than I do now, and got so captivated and obsessed by these books that I always wanted to create my own version – be it of Watership Down (with foxes instead of rabbits) or Anne of Green Gables (set in Cornwall) or Stig Of The Dump (‘Dick of the Den’).   I never finished any.

This time a basic plot came into my head, (and I’m not quite sure where from but it’s none of the above) as did the names of the key characters and their backgrounds.  It’s a long while since I’ve written anything straight from the imagination but I thought I’d give it a go.  It’s not that I want to do anything with it, in fact I might never show it to another soul – I’m under no illusion that anyone else would want to read it.  I just wanted to see what would happen.  I knew it would have to be something a little dark, and definitely something quite adult, to contrast with the light-hearted, child-friendly illustrations I work on the rest of the time.

I didn’t know that, once I finally got started (and that was the hardest part…), it would become so all-consuming.  I began yesterday lunchtime and worked on it sporadically throughout the rest of the day.  Then I carried on into the evening, and again into the night, only running out of steam some time past midnight.  I lay in bed, so so tired but unable to sleep, as my brain continued to re-write paragraphs and come up with new ones.  I couldn’t wait to get up and continue with it today, as I have done.  Not that I’ve got very far -  I keep going back, changing bits, retracing my steps, being taken down routes I didn't even realise were there, getting stuck, and re-reading, re-reading, re-reading.  It’s starting to drive me slightly mad and it’s not even a good story.  I’m already feeling completely spaced out by putting myself into this imaginary world, and into the heads of my made-up characters, and I’m only six pages in.  It’s as if the fictional domain has become my actual one, and my real life feels less so!  How the hell do authors do it?

A page from an early (unfinished) 'novel', circa 1975.
A bit angsty. 

15 comments:

  1. If we don't get to read this...I'm going to pretend this post never happened.

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    1. Hmmm... pretend away!

      I had to write something about it in the real world just to get it off my chest and remind myself that I do exist. The fact that I term blogging as the real world probably tells you all you need to know...

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    2. Well...real is a tricky proposition anyway.

      If it gets real gritty you'll have to come up with a pen name. I'm sure we could help in that regard.

      Give me a minute..:)

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  2. Nothing is real, so someone said. Keep at it.

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    1. Thanks... Mind you, I'm so desperate for some boring reality today I've decided not to even look at it!

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  3. By the sound of it your only problem was going to sleep. It broke the spell so you started rereading and rewriting and beginning to doubt yourself. I wonder what would happen if you set yourself a week, just to write, and the only rule was that you had to just write and not re-write or edit anything before you got to the natural end of your story? I think a lot of creative work requires a leap of faith and just believing, you have to give yourself permission to go for it!

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    1. It would be interesting to see how that would work - although a bit scary! I think you're right about that leap of faith and I expect you find it when creating art, as I do. But I find the difference in drawing/painting is that a lot of it is instinctive and sort of subconscious. I suppose it's using a different part of the brain? I can't seem to find that with writing - it's just doing my head in!!

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  4. Its like someone saying 'you will never guess what happened, but I can'ot tell you' now you have started it you will have to publish, at least a part of it. Your inner ego must have a secret crave to hear what others think about it. Is that not deep down why we do it? You can't not do it now...I dare you!

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    1. I do know just what you mean, OPC. I didn't mean to tease, though, honest!! Sorry! I don't expect it'll ever see the light of day, but was more about setting myself the challenge and finding an outlet for stuff - however, that has already that backfired and now I need an outlet (like this!)for the way it's made me feel!
      I.e. a bit mad $-O
      Curious to know also who else has tried - or already does - any writing, and what works or doesn't work for them too.

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  5. I've had a few short stories published in dusty long-forgotten anthologies, and have won a few competitions. I then got The Fear and haven't submitted anything for about two years. I remember that compulsive, burning process and how it can so easily make you live a 'second life' in your own head, though - at times I quite enjoyed that aspect of it, but at other times it just felt cumbersome. Also too many duff experiences in writing groups wore away at my enthusiasm. Though I still have a need to write which I don't think will ever go away.

    And I'd love to read your story.

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    1. Thank you, Kolley - I'm impressed (but not at all surprised!) at your publishing and prizewinning achievements in writing - and would really love to read your short stories. Glad that it's not just me re. the compulsive feeling. I admit I have a tendency to be all-or-nothing when I first start something, and I wasn't sure if it was that healthy, but maybe it's necessary to some extent, as a driving force?

      My main motiviation at the moment is just a desire to experience the *process*, a kind of personal challenge. Just to try making stuff up from scratch, to see how it feels. But the jury's out on that one at the moment! I may well get to the end of it, then press 'delete'!

      I hope you'll keep writing - in many forms.

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  6. I think that is the point, that you obviously feel the need to write, so don't worry about the end result or what anyone might think about it. I used to write pretty much every day as a child and young teenager, spent almost as much time on writing as I did drawing, but I have never had the courage to show anyone what I wrote... come to think of it, I was never that keen on showing my drawings either... I think I got ambushed into doing this for a living!!!

    I think there is a bit of stigma attached to us arty types when it comes to writing, remember how condescending the tutors were at Art College when they told us about how someone would come and help us with our writing when it came to our Thesis? Or was that just at my college? I never needed any help, thank you, but it lodged in there subconsciously, that because we could draw we were not 'intellectuals' somehow!

    OK, just exposed the bag of chips on my shoulder... get writing, just do it because it's a compulsion ;o)

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    1. Thanks Yve - you're so right. I feel more relaxed about it now. What (little!) plot there is is changing as I progress so in a way it's just a very organic process, just a kind of fulfillment of that need to write as you say, just a desire to do it.

      You're so right too about the stigma! One of my art tutors actually said that "artists are well-known for being terrible at writing", but there wasn't a single student in that particular group who had trouble with it - quite the opposite. I do know one or two of the more 'intense' type of artist who really struggle with writing (although very good with words when speaking) but no more than in any other line I'm sure...

      Shall we have mushy peas with our chips?

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  7. I fancy a Cornish Pasty with mine, and I think we have already established they make great epaulettes...?

    I think it has something to do with the fact that Art Degrees are the only ones you can qualify for with out full academic results. I had a profoundly dyslexic fellow art student on my course who was also very articulate and intelligent, if they would just redefine the way Mensa do their testing I am sure his IQ would have scored very highly, but no, he was relegated to being regarded as "a bit thick but arty" by some snobby types. sadly I think it affects peoples self esteem as well.

    My Granddad used to tell the most amazing stories, some borrowed and reinterpreted but many totally made up on the spot. He always had a spellbound audience of children and adults alike and would have made a brilliant author if he could have been persuaded to ever write them down, but no, with barely any schooling he felt that he wasn't qualified to do that! I wonder how many great stories have left the mouths of orators and raconteurs never to be recorded and now been lost?

    Keep writing and lets eat all our chips before they get cold! :o)

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    1. :-)
      (Could you pass the vinegar, please?)

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