Thursday, February 01, 2007

Freshness of Vision

So I wrote a ghost story and I was pretty pleased with it. The ideas were good but it needed a bit of editing. Then I went into my fiction class. I didn't read it out but it soom became clear to me that my small editing job is going to turn into a major rewrite.

Basically I have fallen into lots of pitfalls that should be avoided in writing. I had an opening descriptive paragraph setting the scene, explaining who the characters were and what was going on. Well that needs to go. Then I had descriptions of how people are feeling and these are cliched - things like "she suddenly felt scared", evidently it is better to use action to show she is scared rather than simply say that she is scared. This helps the reader to engage more with the character.

I understand these things they make sense and I feel like I am really learning something but I did come out of that class feeling a bit demoralised. It was exactly the reason I had put off enrolling on the course for so long (that and money of course) - writing has always been the thing that I am good at and I thought "what if I get to art school and discover that really I'm no good, where will that leave me?" One of my problems is that I have years of bad habits behind me and I have to learn to break them.

I am finding this problem with my poetry as well, I have got into particular habits and that can mean that my writing can sometimes lack depth and sound a bit cliched. I need to let myself go a bit, break out of my self imposed bounaries - when did I ever get so uptight?

This week I have been looking at some short stories that I wrote in my early 20s. They are not good technically and I can see why only two of them ever got published. But what they do have is a freshness of vision and a confidence that my writing sometimes lacks now. I was not afraid then to use language in a fresh and sometimes unconventional way. I wrote on plain paper without lines and I allowed myself to freefall - the words flowing out in a stream of conciousness style. What I should have done was to take those ideas and work on them, editing them until they were accessable to the reader.

I feel like I need to reclaim that free voice, rediscover that fresh way of looking at the world - if it's not too late. To break out of the self imposed confines I have imposed on my own writing and then maybe I might something worth while.


theprovocativecynic said...

Thought your plot was good but didn't have time to comment on the board. Know what you mean by finding that all you thought you could do you turn out to be doing wrong - but ultimately that's why you're on the course and far better, I think, to be able to actually see where you're going wrong. So, have a cup of tea, kick the furniture a couple of times and swear a lot, and then re-write. The plot was worth it.

I think the ability to write freshly (if that's actually a word) is over-rated. Everything I wrote in my teens and twenties now makes me cringe as it's so self-indulgent and self-obsessed. I think it's the self-consciousness that we get as we get older that makes it harder to let go and experiment, but that is getting better in the second year, so just hang in there!

Hope this helps...........for me, in Year 1, term 1 was elating and term 2 a real downer as I turned out not to be as good as term 1 had made me think I was. But then it all seemed to come back together in term 3. That's the effect I'm banking on again this year......:)

pupski said...

thanks - that sounds about right - last term I was elated, this term I can't seem to get it back. thanks for the cooments on the story - i am planning to have a major rewrite - I like the ideas but need to sort out those problem areas that Ashley drew our attention to. I know i am learning a lot - sometimes so much that my brain hurts!

Paula Martinac said...

Hang in there with your writing workshop. We writers tend to glamorize the initial writing/inspiration part, but the most important part of writing is actually revision - the willingness to throw large chunks of material out and start with a clean page.