Sunday, February 05, 2006

Finally, I'm putting the commas and last references into my PhD thesis, and waiting for my viva date. I have to be honest and say I never thought I'd get here, so it's sods law I've only just come across a site which would have been a godsend over the last two years. It would have been a great comfort to have realised there were so many other people struggling to 'Phinish' their PhD too!!!!

The thesis is on the storied self - and how we automatically make narrative patterns to cover the chaos we feel when we're without a story that makes sense of our lives. It's been fascinating applying it to the writing process, and how difficult it is just to let go and see what happens. Freewriting helps in this, but there's something else too. And that's trust. I'm coming to the conclusion that writers have to be so open to everything. The best quote I've found, and it's so beautiful I typed it up to have by my desk, is this one from Richard Kearney's book, On Stories.

He wrote: 'The novelist becomes someone who discloses rather than imposes, who listens gently when the city quietens and sleeps, so that he might 'hear the ghosts of stories whispered.' And at such times, the storyteller feels himself in the presence of something greater than himself'.

It makes me realise how often my writing has gone wrong when I've tried to 'impose' the story - either in plot, or in a message I want to get across. I like the fact, implicit in this quote, that we don't always have to invent the wheel. I'm reading Zadie Smith's On Beauty at the moment, and I love the fact she's following the tradition and route carved by another writer. In my mind, it adds to the complexity and layers of the writing.

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