This writing every day and growing a story is all new to me. I’ve thought of it for years, daydreamed of a story, grown up characters in my imagination and dabbled when time allowed – which was not often.
But now every day I write – mostly at the Art Vault. And I love it there. The bare white walls, the empty bench apart from a laptop and all I carry to go to work is a USB. I turn off my phone. No interruptions. And if there is a noise, it is another artist making a cup of tea in the kitchen nearby. Everyone is respectful – we are there to be creative, to create, to work. We are in the zone, with the muse and that is something I have come to value above gold.
I started out focused on the outcome. Projecting ahead to the results. But have come to that precious place that I am so grateful to have discovered – (with a directional nod from my dear friend DC) – I write solely for the love of writing.
I love that I have eked out the bare bones of a story, followed by research to place muscle and nerves and tissue and meat to fill out the bones. Sometimes I glimpse the DNA that makes the story unique, explore a memory to develop a distinguishing habit, drill down to a molecular level to define a character. Other times I come to a conclusion that a segment is unserving waste and eliminate it with a merciless select/delete.
I think about this story when I’m falling asleep, during meditation when my mind drifts, when I’m rowing or walking or day dreaming in the garden on these sunny winter days.
I’m so enthralled with writing and discovering where this story is going, that sometimes I find hours have passed like minutes and I have ignored the need to eat, sleep or even go to the toilet. And I’m deliriously happy about it.
After 3 months of writing, nearing 10,000 words (and many thousands to go) I see something developing. But being so close, it is impossible for me to be discerning about the beauty of language, objective regarding the quality of the writing, clear about the lure of the story or certain of the appeal to a reader.
So today was the day when I met with a fellow first time writer, HT, and we indulged in the agreed upon show and tell.
It was nerve wracking for both of us. What if our work was crap. What if this passion was producing rubbish. What if the story didn’t flow, the characters were unclear, the point unperceivable. What if, what if, what if….
We decided to read a segment of our work for 15 minutes. Hearing it out loud was new to us. So different to reading to ourselves, which to tell the truth I had only done once from start to finish. Reading out loud, to someone else than ourselves, gave us a different insight. From picking up grammatical errors and basic typos to insights into how it flowed.
Then we gave each other feedback. What was superfluous, what required clarity, did we understand where it was going, were we using too many words, not enough, were we keen to read on and find out what happens and see where it is going?
Yes, yes and yes. It was such a valuable experience and we are planning to do it fortnightly. And this episode has even made me brave enough to ask a literary figure, who I admire enormously, to read and give feedback on an extract of my work.
And he has said yes. Oh god where have my finger nails gone!