Monday, 20 December 2010

...the capacity to astonish...

"The important thing in writing is the capacity to astonish. Not shock - shock is a worn-out word - but astonish.” Terry Southern 


So if you are a writer and you haven’t lived a life involving weird and wonderful stories where you nearly lost a limb trying to save a friend from a grizzly bear or you haven’t had that many experiences, does it mean that you are not qualified to write? No I definitely don’t think so. My life to me is normal as I have lived it for so many years and habit becomes normal but say if I met a stranger and told them my life story I think they would say it is not the norm (depending on their own story I guess) I have experienced lots of things in my life and now that I have the observational skills of a writer I feel I experience more than the average person so to me that makes me qualified to write. Don’t you agree? 


But like I said previously writing is not as easy as it seems. I started my novel as you now know at Heathrow airport  in a little notepad. I continued to write intermittently in this note pad as well developing my storey further, adding another character. I had no idea where the story was going but I couldn’t help but day dream about my characters and what was most likely to happen to them on this journey. 


I then left my writing for a couple of weeks, thinking that same old thought, maybe I am just not good enough for this, and the task before me to write a novel now seemed mammoth, so I left it. It wasn’t until my sister was thumbing through the pages and said that it was actually quite good (which for her to say is quite something) that I thought maybe I’ll carry on. So that is what I did. I typed up my scribble and when I had finished that the words just followed, and there was no stopping me. I was looking for a job after travelling and instead of watching day time TV every day and waiting patiently for my boyfriend to return home from work I started to write everyday. It was an exhilarating feeling, no writers block, the characters developed without me having to work at it. And better still I didn’t have to sit and think about plot lines, they flowed too. This is too easy I though…. How naive I was. 


I found a job though a month or so later and that was my first downfall, we then started looking to move out of rented accommodation into our own house. The new job and the search for a new house pushed writing to the back of my mind so my novel ground to a halt. I left it for some months and later returned to it, but luckily I picked up where I left it and continued with my story. I finished Part 1 the first bit of the story was out, but this was where the problem lay. I couldn’t get started on part two, the lack of plot line and forward thinking made me think “now where to I take this story? What does my Protagonist do?”  I even developed a bit of writers block. I knew I had taken it too easy to begin with. I found myself googling “writers block” read information on how you need to force yourself to write every day (which is why I think you have to be organised to write) and I struggled. I struggled to force words out on to the computer before me, even my traditional method of scribbling my thoughts didn’t help.  It was no use. So I decided to think of a rough outline of where my character would end  . I succumbed to all that advice early on and plotted my characters route, vaguely, but nevertheless she now had some direction. It worked, slowly at first but I churned out the majority of the second half joining libraries and desperately googling to fill the gaps in my information. To make the story shock people it had to be as close to the truth as possible. Any writer will tell you that the reader is not ignorant, it has to be believable to be worth reading. 

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