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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There has been quite a lot happening in my life just recently and the urge to write just got up and walked out. I had to have the lenses in my eyes replaced – not as horrific as it sounds I assure you – but a worry nevertheless. My work has also taken up too much of my time and I found I didn’t want to write – anything.  I have missed Friday Fictioneers very much indeed; missed the contact with people who had become very supportive friends; missed the exchange with people who are kind enough and interested enough to follow my blog, such as it is. I did try to post something for the prompt last week, then deleted it as it was not much good.  I am back to try again.

Forgive the out-pouring, but it matters to me that you know why I have been AWOL.

 

Copyright - Sandra Cook

Copyright – Sandra Cook

 Genre: Fiction

Word Count: 100

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 Beth found the bones at 6pm.

They lay in a shallow space between the overhanging rock face and the old irrigation channel she was working in; she had been clearing stones and old debris from it for the past two weeks.

Rob came over when she called and casually inspected her find.

‘Looks small, a child perhaps?’

‘No!’ Beth shuddered at the thought.

‘Children worked in places like this; the find is not unusual.’

As he gently moved the bones to one side, a soft sigh whispered past them and floated up on the cool evening air.

Free.

At last

 

Read other stories here

 

View detours as challenges, not excuses


I just wanted to share this post, it appeared at the right time for me and hope others benefit from it too.

Live to Write - Write to Live

Whether you write down your goals, or just know what you need to do each day, life has a way of interrupting sometimes.

Detour Ahead signIt doesn’t matter if it’s writing, career, fitness, financial, or any other category — detours can, and generally do, happen to even the most successful people.

The challenge is to stay focused and see the interruptions and setbacks for what they are – delays – and not as excuses for giving up.

It can be especially difficult when you see your goal ahead to be waylaid by life, but if everything were simple, everyone would be doing it all, right?

Maybe we can’t always move forward as fast as we want, but we can always be determined to reach the goal, no matter what.

Some tips:

  • Keep in mind that the only way to fail is to quit. Honest. If you keep trying, you’re not failing.
  • Life…

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