Friday, May 12, 2006

The best writing workshops point out the things you know are wrong with your work, but hope you'll get away with. I've been struggling with several things about my latest novel at the moment, see the interview I did with Mark Pritchard, but a workshop I went to last weekend, pointed out a possible fatal flaw which is that I hadn't really worked out the motivation of the main characters. It hurt - all the best and most useful criticism hurts - but now I've picked myself off the floor, I've realised I need to change things. And this is part of the process of writing for me, learning to give up the wonderful idea I have for a story and let the characters I'm writing about take over a bit. Why oh why will I never learn! After all I know this quote from Richard Kearney almost off by heart:
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.
And here I go imposing rather than disclosing all over again! I do feel sure I'm on the right track now, but I'm still enjoying reading stories at the moment about how other writers struggled to find their way through their work. This one by the poet, Esther Morgan is possibly one of the best I've seen, Journey of a Poem. It feels like such a generous and useful thing for other writers to share when things go wrong, as well as when they're going right, and I particularly like finding out the thinking that goes on between her different drafts.
And my writing prompt for today is going to be .... 'When the city quietens'.


Patry Francis said...

The quote by Kearney is so viscerally beautiful--and so true.

Thank you for sharing your process. I relate.

Sarah said...

There should be a machine that gets the words from your head down to the page, shouldn't there Patry? I seem to get them lost midway down my arm!