I’ve read several posts this morning with great writing advice in them, or posts about the importance of writing. The online blog community is a wondrous resource for all things writerly. Even if you aren’t a writer, these are still great reads.
So I thought I’d share the highlights of my morning reads (as a nice change from hearing all about me and my lovely children!)
The first post I read this morning was by Robert Benson, on his blog Ubiquitous. Quotidian, called The Inconvenient Urge.
The post discusses how the need and inspiration to write comes at the worst possible times:
“The urge to write often settles on me when there is too much to do at work. When there are already too many unfinished projects and too many dishes to wash and too many clothes to fold. The urge comes when family members are sick, when the child needs my attention, when things are already impossibly complex and there are too many things competing for my focus.”
Aside from the fact that it’s nice to hear a man also complaining about the laundry and the dishes (hurrah it isn’t just me!) it is also a feeling I can completely relate to. I went to write in the local Motorway Services this morning (it’s not far from preschool and I find if I go there, rather than going home, I get more done. Especially when the internet isn’t working!) Even though the WiFi was on today, meaning I wrote fewer than half of the 4,000 words I wrote last Monday, I still got engrossed enough in Claire’s journey to forget to get my McD breakfast before 10.30am. 🙂
I’ve been known to be late for the school run, or lose several hours of what is meant to be productive housework time, or forget to walk the dog, because I’m wrapped up in another world. As Robert Benson concludes, however, “the urge to write comes when it will. Be grateful. Be ready. It is always inconvenient.”
The second post I read today (via http://jeryder.blogspot.co.uk) was a list of great quotes on writing by famous authors, on the Thought Catalog blog. Entitled 21 Harsh But Eye-Opening Writing Tips by Great Authors, my favourites include these:
11. Imagine that you are dying. If you had a terminal disease would you finish this book? Why not? The thing that annoys this 10-weeks-to-live self is the thing that is wrong with the book. So change it. Stop arguing with yourself. Change it. See? Easy. And no one had to die. – Anne Enright
17. Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very’; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. – Mark Twain
The final blog I read today, by the Write Practice, was called Write Naked, and it discusses a favourite topic of mine: writing what you know. Like the author of the article, I used to think that suggested you could only write about your personal sphere of experience: meaning I could only write stories about marketing managers who had been to New Zealand. (Well, actually, that does feature quite a lot in my stories! Ahem.)
But that isn’t what it means. It means writing about the sensations you can relate to. It isn’t the detail of the job you do that defines it, but the emotions you experience along the way.
So, even though Dragon Wraiths is about a sixteen-year-old orphan, and that wasn’t my childhood, I could still draw from enough experiences of my life growing up to write authentically about loneliness and not fitting in and the exhilaration of being outside in nature.
In the article, Sophie Novak says:
“Write naked. The raw can be a million times more powerful than the best polish. Do you know why? Because truth shines. It can’t be beaten by invention. Just forget any inhibitions, and share the truth. Your truth. It’s quite scary, and absolutely worth it.”
Or, as Neil Gaiman puts it, “The moment that you feel that just possibly you are walking down the street naked…that’s the moment you may be starting to get it right.”
Below is the next installment in my novel Two-Hundred Steps Home: written in daily posts since 1st January as part of my 2013 365 Challenge. Read about the challenge here.You can catch up by downloading the free ebook volumes on the right hand side of the blog:
“Right, boys, get dressed, we’ve got a busy day ahead.”
Claire laughed at the groans emanating from the bunks as she stuck her head around the door. The hostel had been mostly empty when they arrived, and they’d been able to secure adjacent rooms. After sharing with the boys for a week at the previous hostel, Claire was glad to go back to her own, private, sweet-smelling space.
The only movement her words provoked was a pulling up of duvets, muffling the grumbling protests that it was too early. Claire thought there had to be a happy medium between Sky waking up with the birds, and these boys who needed a rocket under them to get them going in the morning.
With a sly glance she said, “I guess I’ll have to cancel the motor boat trip then, and we’ll go to the seal sanctuary after all.”
The duvets flung back and first Jack and then Alex sat up in bed.
“Motor boat? Are we going water skiing?” Jack asked, looking adorable with his tousled hair and sleepy excited eyes.
Claire’s smile drooped. “Ah, no. We’re going on a day out on the estuary.” She watched their excitement fade, and thought quickly. “But we’re taking the boat out on our own. Have you steered a motor boat before? And are you any good at map reading?”
Alex’s expression remained disgruntled, but Jack jumped up. “Bagsy I get to steer the boat first. Thank you, Aunt– I mean Claire.” He ran over and gave her an impulsive hug.
Claire returned the embrace, a little surprised at the gesture. The boys were not very tactile, unless you included thumping each other and wrestling on the bedroom floor.
“You’re welcome, Jack. Come on boys, get dressed. This hostel is self-catering, so we’re going out for a fry up.” She’d learnt that a hearty breakfast was essential. As with men, so with boys: regular feeding was a core requirement of good relations.
Claire looked at the tiny craft bobbing on the water, and thought better of her great idea. For something licensed to hold six people it looked tiny.
And very vulnerable, she thought, watching the boat pull at its mooring as the wake of a passing yacht stirred up the water.
“You boys taking your Mum fishing?”
All three of them turned to look over as a man approached them, his lined face split in a wide grin. “They’ll be biting today. It’s high tide around mid-morning, but you’re best to wait until the afternoon. Forecast is good. Did you want to borrow some rods? I’m sure I can find something.”
Claire shuddered, and hoped the boys were more interested in steering the boat than pulling slimy squirming creatures from the water.
“Can we, Claire, can we, please? I’d love to catch something. I’ve never been sea fishing before.” Jack’s voice rose high with eagerness.
“Doesn’t Robert take you?” As she said the words, she tried to imagine her brother, as she knew him now, attaching maggots to a hook. “Never mind. Er, yes, if you can borrow all the gear I don’t see why not. Just don’t expect me to touch them. If you catch something you’re on your own.”
The answering grin from both boys was electric. Claire hoped the friendly stranger was wrong, and the fish weren’t biting. Leaving them discussing the merits of various types of bait with the man from the boat yard, Claire wandered off in search of caffeine. It was going to be a long day.