The art of not writing, and making a habit of it…


I realised years ago that I wanted to write.  Not just essays for school, or long thank you letters to my relations for gifts they felt I would like, but stories. Each Sunday I read what I had scribbled down, to my sister and a collection of large teddy bears and dolls who had no option but to sit and listen to me.

I moved on to bigger projects when I was about eight or so.  I announced that I was writing a play entitled “The Little Bull” and would be happy to let my parents read it when it was finished.  I confidently announced this would be in a week or so. About a month later, after losing my way with the plot, I threw away all the pages I had written and started again.  The play would still be about the little bull, an antique milk jug spotted in the window of a little shop in town, but this time I had a definite idea how the play would end. I made the mistake of mentioning this project to my teacher who got very excited and asked me every day how things were going until I handed in the finished article.

At this point I must be honest and say that I did expect some modest praise for my efforts.  My parents told me how good they though the play was, and ventured that perhaps the school may want to put in on at the end of term. My teacher had other ideas.

She gave me what I am sure she thought was a fair critique of my play, but at eight years old you are not ready for talks about directions, or voice, or sense of place or even a timeline. She lost me.

I didn’t attempt to write anything for a long time.  Then in the last year of high school, the English teacher mentioned a short story competition and urged as many of us as possible to ‘give it a go’.  I wrote furiously about a girl who finds some letters written to her grandmother, years before she was married, obviously from a lover.

It was all going beautifully, until the boy from the local bank asked me out on a date. I had been fantasising over him for months …

Over the next few years, I married (not the banker)  – moved to Scotland – moved back – had a child– got divorced and wrote nothing.  Years rolled by and still I wrote nothing, although I was sure that I could write something.  Sometime.  Perhaps.

I read everything I could find about writing and successful writers; about skill with words and plot, about voice, a sense of place and dedication to their craft.  I joined a creative writing class with eight other women and two men.  Towards the end of the first term, Arthur who wanted to write a book about fishing, disappeared.  He never returned to the class and we never heard from him.  Tristan our tutor, ‘who had been published’, tried in vain to find out what had happened to him. Tony, now the only male in our class, decided to put this strange happening to good use and wrote a short story entitled ‘The Disappearance of Arthur.’

I stayed the course and received my fair share of honest criticism and some praise too I might add, but found the experience stifling.  Although I enjoyed our discussions about Hemmingway, Carter, Chekov et al, and no doubt gained a lot more than I thought I had, when the class decided to move on to studying poetry the following year I decided not to join them. I made some good friends and we keep in touch.  None of them as yet have finished the novels they began in the classroom, but they are all convinced that they will finish them one day.  And I wish them well.

After the class, I decided to try my hand at writing a blog.  I wasn’t sure what I was going to write about but hoped that someone would want to read my posts. Since starting to blog, I have met lots of good writers and enjoy reading their posts and stories. I found that though there are some who are waiting for THE phone call or email from an agent, there are many more who are just happy to entertain their followers with photos or stories about their particular take on life.

Most recently I have been enjoying Friday Fictioneers – a group started by Madison Woods and now in the very good care of Rochelle Wisoff-Fields –  who posts a photograph, as the inspiration each week for any writer who cares to join in and post a story in 100 words.  The only stipulation is there must be a beginning, a middle and an end.   I say that I have been enjoying, because for the past few weeks I have found it very difficult to come up with anything worthy of posting.  And I miss the other Fictioneers.

Am I being too critical?    Am I just being lazy?   Has my muse deserted me?

Or am I just continuing the art of not writing…

Constructive comments would be most welcome from anyone who cares to take the time to leave one

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9 thoughts on “The art of not writing, and making a habit of it…

  1. I think you are too critical of yourself. Just write 100 words. I don’t worry about the beginning, middle, and end. It seems to take care of itself. And no one is grading me on my story! Join in….. as you have noticed if you have been reading all the entries of the Friday Fictioneers, there are all different skill levels of writers. That is what I like. You will usually find someone who has a similar story than yours, and some that are wildly different.
    Just write. Don’t worry!

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  2. 100 words Dee! The FF group can be very complimentary at times and i often wonder if they are sincere and then when people don’t comment I wonder what their problem is.
    Aaaahhhh the world that revolves around me…
    I find the compliments and critiques addicting. But I try to stay grounded and write for me, first. I didn’t write for a long time either but that is no longer a choice. Life is too short to do it later.

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  3. Pingback: Hayride | 40again's Blog

  4. I take a break from writing from time to time, give my brain a rest and just soak in my surroundings. Then I come back, refreshed. I’m sure you have moments when you feel you must jot something down…a sentence, a description of something you saw or how your felt. Write it when it comes, and don’t sweat it.

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    • Hi Patti
      Good to hear from you. Yes I do have those moments – I have taken to carrying a notebook with me, which has necessitated a larger bag/purse – and make all sorts of notes which I’m sure will come in handy at some stage.
      Thanks for reading
      Dee

      Like

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