Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Checking in

Busy doing things with words (or possibly to words - they do seem to be cowering in a corner and whimpering at the moment).

Suffering from the heat (this is Scotland, dammit, it has no right climbing into the 70s).

Checking out...

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

The psychology of writing or tnhtmb*

Not much pyschology, actually. Poking around inside my head is more akin to trying to unblock the waste disposal unit, unpleasant (and certainly not somewhere you want to be sticking your fingers) but necessary if you don't want all that gunge backing up and an evil smell lingering about the place. In a manner of speaking.

Creatively, I've had a good year so far. A whole novel drafted (even if it isn't exactly 'literature', but who cares, 70k is 70k and I had fun). Plenty of research done (and I don't mean the sitting-with-your-feet-up-and-eyes-closed type). Lots of books read (I'm on number 51). Reviews written.

I was getting all geared up to start the draft of another novel, with the aim of having that finished by the end of the year. And no problem as I have lots of notes and the first half (possibly two-thirds) already written as a screenplay. I was looking forward to it. Really looking forward to it.

Then... Well. Let's say the spirit is willing but the flesh is... droopy.

I probably need a bit more time off. The heat doesn't help (we're not used to it here). And I keep thinking of other projects - not least The Mirror That Is Made.

Which got me thinking (see, there's the problem). I never get anywhere with these thoughts, but I do wonder what is happening in the old bone dome when stories ferment or come to the boil. I try not to interfere too much. The mind is a marvellous place and quite capable of sorting these things out without the conscious part of myself sticking its fingers into the mechanism.

Some of the elements and underlying themes of the books I write are easy to trace, but what is it that makes me combine them in the way that I do? What strange byways have these thoughts, ideas, and images wandered before meeting again. Often metamorphosed and melded. And what is it beneath them all that makes me want to turn them into stories?

Is it arrogance? Millions of people read books (hurrah, and please write to all your favourite publishers asking them why they don't have me signed up). A very small percentage of them have any urge to write the damned things (hurrah again, the less competition the better). Do I have a subconscious thought that I can do it as well as if not better? Actually that's not very 'sub' - I know I'm not up there with the best, but there is some truly dire stuff gets into print and it's a matter of psychic self-defence to believe I can write better than that. So perhaps it is discontent; never having quite found the exact sort of book that I would like to read. On the other hand... I have shelves full of books that I have read and re-read because they seem to me to be perfectly in tune with my psyche (yes, I know, there are some weird books out there). I know for sure it has nothing to do with money. You don't get rich from writing unless you are the exception.

Clearly, I wish to express myself. But why writing? I am reasonable at graphic work, can draw and paint and would probably be fairly good if I worked at it with the same zeal I give to my writing. Music? Two left ears and short, arthritic fingers that learned a long time ago they weren't designed for my favoured instrument (bass guitar in case you are interested).

So I use words to express myself. It may be why I chose Drama as a subject I wanted to teach, along with Theatre Arts. There it was certainly true that whilst I enjoyed acting and the use of Drama as a method of teaching, it never quite hit the spot. It took a few years to find that out and I had a ball along the way.

I have written since I was about seven; began to take it seriously when I was about sixteen (and by seriously, I mean that I started to think about (a) how to write and (b) how to improve. Forty years on, I think I might just be getting the hang of it.

I'm still not sure I know why. Something inside me perhaps requires a release. Writing is the safety valve, like the one you get on pressure cookers, rattling away whilst everything cooks nicely inside without actually exploding.

Perhaps one day we'll discover what the meal was and, with any luck, we'll also discover it was quite tasty and worth the wait.

* - That's never happened to me before.