Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Another Hexham Book Event

Gorse, sometimes called broom
Meg Rosoff is an American who has lived in Britain for a long time. She doesn’t approve of “teaching” creative writing but if she practised the art, would suggest that Archer, Brown and Meyer should take up other occupations. Thinks all writing is a reflection of the author, and that it takes seven years, like an ancient apprenticeship, to learn the craft of writing. Or to put another way, it takes 10,000 hours before you produce reasonable writing. (Though it occurs to me that in seven years the apprentices did more than a million hours, and that’s if they worked a five-day week.)
Most people find that their first chapter is overwritten, overworked and often omitted in the final book. There’s too much exposition.

Think of a Colander – everyday stuff rushes in and falls through the holes, but some things will stick. They’re the important bits and will be quite different to other people’s bits. The contents make you, and the particular you that you are will dictate what and how you write.
Some people are clear, sometimes too clear. Everything is on display. Others are not connected to their subconscious and you feel you keep coming up against a pane of glass as you talk to them.

Depressives are attracted to the arts. (Or perhaps it is vice versa.) The depressive thinks he sees the world more accurately than anyone else. Perhaps it helps to be a depressive writer? When we’re writing, we’re looking for a conduit to the subconscious. What’s in the brain should come out on the page. I think this quote is from the Talmud: “We do not see things as they are. We see them as WE are.” Once you start writing, you may be surprised at what comes through to the page.
There is no objective truth, no one way to write. Often writing is technically competent, with good storytelling and plotting, but has no voice. Think of voice as in singing: you want a strong voice from your rib cage, not a thin little voice from your throat. German dressage riders have a word that roughly translates as through-goingness – from the rider to the horse and out into the dressage movement – a complete flow of energy.
Principal ballet dancers stand out against the corps de ballet because s/he has a quality the others do not. Their voice is strong.

Who you are, what you have to say, plus the confidence and self-knowledge to get it on the page – all these things go towards making your voice.

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