This morning’s pages were good, took on the challenge of showing a little more description of the protagonist’s love interest/ally and their house. It is something that I may lift entirely and place earlier in the book but sometimes insights arrive when they’re ready to be written down, and so long as you know where you are and what you are doing, then that is half the battle. I also looked at my list of obligatory scenes and made some notes as to which I have done, and where they are, as well as started to sketch out some of the major ones later. Yes, you can skip back and forth, but I like those scenes to come to me with the force of momentum and a sense of being due, rather than overdue.
I did not work on Until She Sings last night but will do so today, spent some time giving feedback on a friend’s short story that took some detail. Feedback is a potentially dangerous thing, which is why so many people are reticent to give it. Too honest and it appears cruel, too soft-spoken and it appears patronising. I aim to strike a balance between the two. You cast bread out on the water, you get back cake and who doesn’t like cake?
This next part is the rest of the Ten Perfections as applied to a writing practice.
6. Wisdom – Your life is source material. If not the objective experiences, then the emotions that you have experienced or the things that you have learned from them. The life you have lived and live has all the colours you need to paint a masterpiece, sometimes you will need blend colours and nuances to get the shade that you need. You have lived, and learned, the difficult part is in the translation sometimes. Imagination is that path, but it is the wisdom of experience that will give you the strength to walk along it.
7. Effort. There is the effort required to write, or develop a sustainable practice of writing and maintain it. There is the effort required to research and improve your craft, the effort to read rather than watch television or play videogames. There is the determination to market your work as well. Effort is important to the development of an approach to writing.
8. Patience. Writing for a reply to an email that may offer success or feedback. Replies to enquiries or about submissions that seem to take their sweet time in arriving. Seeing people get deals, retweeting fan art and glowing reviews whilst you’re still waiting to find out if what you’ve written is actually any good. Patience is important but do not be passive about it. Work on your material, seek to improve in some small way to ensure that the time spent in patient anticipation was not wasted.
9. Truthfulness. Honesty on the page is everything. Yes, writing is a series of entertaining lies interspersed with truth. Tell the truth through the observations and actions of your characters. It is free therapy, and earnest, unvarnished truth resonates with readers in a way that the most elegant, glorious language never could. If it is uncomfortable, keep a straight face and say that it is just fiction. Stick a hobbit or a ninja in there to distract them. Yes, you’re making things up and having a fine time doing it but hold some measure up to the light of the truth within and about yourself.
10. Determination. Better work than yours will be ignored, lesser works than yours will be feted and celebrated. Some people will do less to get further and faster than you. Your work will sometimes feel like a trudge through a muddy path. Your family will demand more of your attention, at exactly the point that your second act falls to shit and phone calls will interrupt your most sublime reveries. This is where determination comes in. It applies regardless of whether writing is a hobby or a career for you. A strange fact is that the more effort you put into something, the better you will get and then your enjoyment of the hobby will gain depth and find new meaning. There’s something almost perverse in developing a level of aptitude for no other reason than your own pleasure. We’re encouraged to get better for the salary increase, the title but when we do it for the soul’s reward, there is something truly sublime in that.
When your heart is breaking, writing makes sense. It takes determination to write through your pain but it makes it easier to bear it all.
Writing is so rewarding for me that the more I have aligned my life around it, the happier I have become. It has made me rich in terms of spirit and mind. If you can find a groove to set into and you are present with it, it’s a thing of genuine wonder to me, and I feel successful already. My ambition is to build a life that allows me to do more of that. I am investigating the process to get into teaching, with an aim to develop as a teacher of creative writing. I’ve spent decades doing things for other people all the time, and although it was not time wasted, I can see that a future where I am sourced in my wonder and craft would be a thing of joy for me. If that groove becomes a rut, then the solution is to keep digging until you find that the air is fresher underground.
Inspiration is like a moth, killed by the smallest casual nudge so learn to work without it. Then, when it does arrive, you can appreciate and enjoy it’s time with you.
Thank you for listening.