One Word At A Time
Of all the challenging things I have tried in my life, writing is the most surprising of them all to me. I took my time getting around to it too. It has taken me sixty years or so to eventually put my heart into it.
I was talking to a friend the other day, and this very subject came up. I said I did not have what you might call a ‘conventional education’, and as a result, I shied away from writing whenever I could. I was dyslexic and in some ways far too good at hiding that fact.
Shame is a strong emotion when you are a youngster. As a result, my path through life was peppered by all sorts of tangents and offside forays into one kind of an adventure after another. Survival without being good at reading and writing was tricky for me, especially as I had no interest in manual work, or it for me.
My friend said I had an education that was perfect for that of a writer and you know, he was right. My natural curiosity and willingness to try anything and everything meant I gained a wide range of knowledge on many different subjects. No matter what I was doing, I always wanted to know everything about it. How it works and where it came from and so on. I was as happy discussing physics and the stars as I was history and politics.
It took me quite a while to master reading, and writing even longer, but it didn’t stop me exploring the world around me in as much detail as I could. I am delighted now to have the world of creative writing as part of my life.
Our Collective Myths.
To be able to craft a story and to bring a world alive in print is so fantastic. It is hard to avoid cliches like ‘the characters take on a life of their own’ etc., but something definitely happens that is hard to explain. I think maybe your brain as an author starts to make the world you imagine, as real as any part of what is reality in your head. It’s as if it is a real place you visit and the people in it are alive and made of flesh blood. I know I dream of the people I write about and the places they are in and what they do.
Telling stories is perhaps one of the most important things humans do that bind us together. Our collective myths, “belief stories” all hold the values and metaphors that define our identity. Like everything else in the universe these are in a constant state of change and writers, or if you like storytellers, are central and essential in capturing those changes.
They also churn up the sediment that is just below currents running through the hidden parts of our societies and lives. They show us our greatness and possibilities, and also our nastiness and failings. That is why they are often persecuted and feared by governments who wish to keep control of power or maintain a great lie.
So for me to be on this path as a writer, is one that I feel very honoured by. I am genuinely humbled by the very act of creating a story, using nothing other than words to do it.
It is just amazing to think about. You put one word after another and before you know it a new person or event has come in to being.
“The concrete road was cracked and worn. There were trees with full rich green canopies lining one side, and they looked in need of being cut back. It’s not easy riding a bicycle down Church Street anymore, but it was noisy and bumpy. Sally More was always up for a challenge in her life at any time. No rough concrete or potholes full of weeds were going to stop her today. She had made a promise after all, and Sally never backed out of a promise.”
As a writer, I want to know why is the street so run down? What made Sally so brave and what is important about today? Most of all I want to know what was the promise she made, and to whom? Because like you I have no idea at all, but that’s the fun of it.
A Word On A Page
So it begins and ends with a word on a page or screen or even a voice in your ear. We tell and retell the stories of our lives to each other dressed up in fiction. Sometimes, some of us who have the time and the drive, make it all up and put it in a book — one simple word at a time.
I don’t know if I will be a best selling author or even one that people will want to read. If I needed that, then I don’t know if I could keep on writing. Oh, I am human I do enjoy positive feedback and would love people to enjoy what I write, but I do it because I enjoy it.
I write what I am interested in. I think that’s important. I don’t want to be someone else or write like some other author. I may turn out to be very like another writer, but not because I planned it.
No, I think you should write for yourself first of all. Tell yourself the best story you can imagine and have fun doing it. Sally is still on her bike, I for one hope she gets somewhere, don’t you?