I've got so many firm ideas about how I write. Examples:

1- 'I can't write unless I'm sitting in a familiar and, above all, quiet environment.' OR
2- 'I can't produce a single word until I've got the whole story worked out in my head.' OR
3- 'I mustn't discuss my work with anyone until it's complete.'

I don't know when and why such ideas took shape in my mind. But I do know that the experience of doing my two courses (both of which will be over in about 3 weeks) has shown me that all of the above are at least partly false.

1- For the last two weeks, I've spent almost the entire return train journey from London writing. Yes, the chattering of the other passengers is noisy. Yes, the train jolts and jumps and makes a racket. Yes, the seats are uncomfortable and the writing space is about the size of a postage stamp. But somehow some writing does get done. It's not of any high quality, but it's THERE, on the page, staring back at me with a life of its own.

2- I think, ultimately, I'll still be a 'plan-before-I-write' kind of author. But certainly the last few weeks have shown me that if I just allow myself to ramble on the page for a few minutes - and if I tell myself that what I'm about to write isn't necessarily going to have to be a polished piece of work - then somehow, some story-telling gene suddenly kicks in. And the rambling begins to take on a coherent, perhaps even an interesting shape.

3- This is a tricky one, because one of the main reasons why I don't like discussing 'works in progress' with other people is that I feel that my genuine inability to articulate shadowy characters and barely discernible plots will be taken as rude evasiveness. However, on the (much too) rare ocassions when I have found someone willing to listen to half-formed sentences and incoherent mumbles, then I've noticed things starting to become slightly clearer in my own head... although of course, the poor listener is still thoroughly bemused.

So yes, the courses have been a pretty demanding slog but I feel they've given me so much in such a short space of time. There's no doubt that I'll miss them when they're over.

Popular Posts