Monday 21st August
When you start reading a book you don’t need to know how the story ends. And so it is true of writing; a book, a story or a daily blog. All you really need is the Title, or the first few words – an idea of a suggestion of a subject is often enough. The hardest thing to do is to disturb the pure white page with your inky daubs, but once you get going it is never so hard. I was going to give this advice to my writing group here in Eymet (it is just a bunch of friends who like writing and read out stuff once a month – nothing pretentious) at the next meeting. I meet them now and then between readings, and they often say how they are struggling to write on the subject. I think they may be trying too hard. It is best, I find, to just write the title and a first line or two, and it will usually flow. And if it doesn’t it really doesn’t matter. Tear the scrap of paper up, or press the delete button a few times – have a rest, a cup of tea maybe and later, try again. I rarely know exactly how my writing is going to progress. In fact my books start off quite randomly and once I find my voice (often the voice of the narrator) the story grows out of the characters. Sometimes you have to end up manipulating them to get to the end – but more often than not, they, the characters write the story for you. It was certainly true of Catherine, I jokingly say that she wrote the book – and in a way she did, once I had created her she took over, or I became Catherine, not sure which, and the book got written. And the same with 2066 – it just grew once I found Janek’s voice, and even the Philanthropist, although I knew what I wanted him to do with his money – how he got it, and how he got to that point where giving it all away was the whole point of his existence were all I had to work out – and so I just started writing.
You do often use bits of autobiography, the experiences you may have suffered, but most of it is imagination. I often say that all you need is a coat-hanger to hang the story on. Just like those cut-out Bunty dolls my sister used to get – all you had to do was cut out the clothes and fold tabs A and B, and there she was in all her splendour. So writing is just like that, get your coat-hanger, which can be as slender as a first line, and hang the clothes on, then your characters come to life and become Bunty’s of their own making.
Just like this blog, I never know how they will end – who would have thought I would end with Bunty in her little skating outfit, pom-pom hat and all…you really never know how the story will end.