It really is true what they say about writing.. It’s like everything else, the more you do it, the easier it comes. So, after 6 weeks or so of erratic writing due to kids off school and so called ‘summer time’ I am really struggling. I am trying to get a piece together for Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Writing Competition which they are running in conjunction with their Mountains To Sea Book Festival
and I struggled for 2 days trying to come up with a blog post From My Kitchen Table. That has never happened before. This led me to wonder about writing and having spent the last year or so, trying to get more serious about it I have come up with 5 Truths About Writing. They may not be your truths but I thought I would share them anyway:
Truth No 1
Writing is like exercise. If you don’t practice often (preferably daily) you get rusty and it becomes difficult.
Truth No 2
You can go to classes on writing, read books on writing and go to workshops on writing, forever. They are enjoyable if you are interested in the process of writing as most of us are. But at some stage you actually have to pick up the pen or open the laptop and start writing. I also have a sneaking suspicion that there comes a stage when you need to stop ‘learning’ and start ‘doing’.
Truth No 3
You do need quiet to write. It is impossible to write with noise and distractions all around. Although I still harbour my dream of my writing cabin under the hawthorn tree at the end of the garden, I now realise that if I don’t have the kitchen table to myself, I can take myself and my laptop up to my bed where I can make a fairly comfortable nest and where I can write in the quiet.
Truth No 4
Editors and real journalists are not in fact scary people waiting to shout at you for your ‘unprofessionalism’ or your cheek for having sent them a piece of work. Twitter has helped on that one, where you can converse with all manner of ‘professional’ writers. But I think I have finally realised that if you have a piece of writing that you feel is good, it probably is. Keep working with it and sending it out into the print media universe and it may well find a home!
Truth No 5
Don’t take rejection personally. Or more usually don’t take being ignored personally. Although I still really don’t understand why radio stations, magazines or newspapers can’t just send a quck email saying ‘no thanks’.
So there you have it. None of my Writing Truths are earth shattering or original. Most are common sense. But it has served me well to write them down and share them. And voila I have a blog post!
Photo by Muffet on Flickr
I am a big fan of the Library Service. After churches, and interesting bookshops, I love to spend time in the library. My library organises some wonderful literary events during the year. Many of them low key and local. I did my first creative writing course, for free, in my library. I have been to an intimate talk on ‘How to Get Published’ in my library. Recently I got to hear one of my favourite authors, Alexander McCall Smith, courtesy of the Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Library Service. Alex, or Sandy as he likes to be called, is the author of the hugely successful No 1 Ladies Detective Agency series which is set in Botswana. He also writes various other series – many set in his home city of Edinburgh.
He is extraordinarily relaxed and laughs so easily that just being in his presence lifts one’s spirits.
He is a prolific writer. If I remember correctly he said he publishes up to 3 books per year. And he makes it sound so easy. He doesn’t write every hour God sends. He writes for three hours in the morning. This clever and articulate man believes that writing comes from the subconscious and that once we can get into the writing zone and access this part of our minds, the writing just flows. The stories just write themselves is what he said. He followed that by sharing the fact that he does very little editing. What a joy it was to listen to him.
So, if like me, you tend to spend (waste) hours reading ‘How To Write’ books and trawling websites and blogs for hints and tips, maybe you should take heed of Sandy’s words.
I agree that all writing is borne out of our own experiences and once you can relax and be grounded enough to access this rich repository of material, the words will flow directly from this sealed part of your mind to the keyboard.
I think that many of us find this to be true. When you try to hard to write something wonderful, it doesn’t read true. But when you are relaxed and just start writing, you often produce something wonderful and authentic. You are writing from your heart.
So I hereby announce the setting up of the No 1 Laid Back Lazy Literary Ladies Society and we are open to new members. Thanks to Brigid O Connor over at Sort of Witty for her help in developing this idea. I hereby bestow on her vice chairwomanship of this august and worthwhile organisation. So – can we sign you up?
We have just one week left of Summer Holidays. Today is Sunday and this day next week, my girls will be making sure they have all they need for their return to school on the Monday. A new school year and both of them move on to new teachers and a new classroom. And as I will watch them walk into the yard on Monday week, I know I will think of how quickly years pass, of how summers come and go and how much older they look as they set their faces to new challenges that lie ahead.
And as I return home, I will, no doubt, relish to silence and the calm in the house as I once again reclaim it as my daytime territory. I will put on some coffee to brew and then I will begin to plan how I can achieve my new challenges – my new (school) year resolutions.
As we turn towards autumn and the days shorten and darkness arrives a little earlier, I am conscious of more time indoors and therefore more time to spend on things I wish to achieve. The reintroduction of routine also allows me to shape my time into ways that work for me. And perhaps I mirror the children’s progress through education by attempting to persue something not yet accomplished.
Since I retired from full time (paid) employment, I have been able to explore lots of things that catch my interest. I have become a Reiki Master, have discovered the joy of baking, can read acres more than I could in the past, got involved in volunteering within my community and have dabbled with writing. So my resolution this year is to attempt to narrow my focus and gather my energy back my varied interests and direct it to my writing. I am hoping to devote at least 3 mornings a week to writing and by Christmas will take stock on what I have accomplished. I am not expecting to have a book ready by then you understand…. but it would be nice to have perhaps a story or two achieved and maybe some clear ideas of how I can become the best writer I can be. Another step on the road to understanding who I am and to living my best life!!! (http://serenityspace-barbara.blogspot.com/2009/08/living-your-best-life-1
So – are you making any new term’s resolutions? What are they?