… our world is shifting in the biggest and smallest of ways, every little movement having a ripple effect on the whole complicated web we call life on earth. I think a lot of us, individually, are shifting right now too, and many of us are contemplating creative changes, career changes, relationship changes, and personal changes that we wouldn’t have given a thought to only two short weeks ago.
I’m in a peculiar state these days, one familiar to writers and artists. Liminal space is a term I’ve just learned from the book Whatever Happened to Barry Chambers*. It is a time in between, a time of knowing and not-knowing. One door is firmly shut behind me. The next door is right there — but not yet open. Whether it’s my completed novel, now being pitched by my Yes! agent InterSaga. Or another life changing event (think of arriving to start uni, think of late pregnancy with your first baby). No amount of anxiety or imagination can change what lies ahead… but it’s definite and it will happen.
A strange state of forced patience, of trying to just value this in between, moment by moment. ‘Without any irritable reaching after fact’ said Keats, coining the term negative capability. Which is a positive thing. In fact it’s what writing the next novel is all about. A blind plunge into the unknown, the blank page.
PS — see my new crazy papiermache works here. And a new haiku here.
PPS — *By Barry Kay, the book is a memoir of a truly remarkable split upbringing.
‘I’m not happy when I’m writing, but I’m more unhappy when I’m not.‘ So said Fannie Hurst from the source you’ll see in my teachingcreativewriting blog here with scores of freebie writing exercises for writing tutors. It’s an exercise I call Quote-match. What did Stephen King say? How about JK Rowling? Hemingway? You may object to what Agatha Christie said… Alternative, look at this page of this site. Have a happy teaching term!
Six months later… she emerges from the intense re-writing of A Body of Knowledge. And the challenge of synopsis and letters-to-agents. I vowed to get my mystery about a therapist who tells fairytales off to six agents by end of July, and I’ve nailed it (just one week late).
Thanks to author Diane Chandler (Moondance, The Road to Donetsk – Blackbird Books )for being my Beta reader. To husband Michael for being my First reader. To Rachel Knightley and her Green Ink Writers Gym for incisive support on Chapter 1 and approaching agents. To Jericho Writers for their wonderful Agent Match and online tutorials.
UPDATE: I forgot to say big thanks to editor-tutor Jayne Watson and to all at Retreats for You in Sheepwash, Devon where a year ago this month I went to wrestle with the first rewriting, a wonderful writers’ haven.
And 6xmonths apologies to family, friends and followers whom I have had to abandon to get to this stage. Normal broadcasting will resume shortly… And thanks to the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, full of colour and creativity, including this fierce and wonderful dog by T. Blewitt
Sleeping Wing slk 2010
‘Sleep on it’ they say. I’ve finally got to the stage of life when I find out it’s true. Deeply deeply re-writing A Body of Knowledge, I’ll finish a chapter, glance ahead to see what to tackle next, shut down for the day (or night). Then towards morning, or walking about doing the Rest of Life next day, I’m suddenly struck. ‘He wouldn’t say it that way, it’d be…’ or ‘She has to remember the time they…’ or ‘omg, X has to happen before they discover Y.’
Feeling good about Trust the Process. Let things come to me. Don’t force it.
The blue wing thing is an abstract piece of sculptural papiermache I made. It came as a dream image.
Mega moan. Writing interrupted by builders, plumbers, painter, festivities, family… and just as I am getting back in the groove of re-writing A Body of Knowledge, the pc crashes. Count blessings: nothing lost in the crash. Re-writing is really interesting — so many nooks and crannies where I am making connections and discovering new layers… some of them were there already just waiting to be brought out a bit. A case of What I didn’t Know that I Knew.
Though skies are grey, even in January sometimes they are blue… to see a winter season haiku click here.
And now for a little haiku break. I am a writer of extremes. From plunging deep into novel-land of 60-70-80-90,000 words. To plunging deep into haiku, 12-13-14-15 (17 is too many) syllables. The ridiculous to the sublime?
barring my entry
the gatepost spider
its gossamer strength
An autumn haiku I’m adding to my haiku page. It and other seasons, here.
From kitchen table to bookshop — here’s an exciting chance to get going on your creative writing dream in a fun private writing class in Chiswick, west London. My colleague Diane Chandler, author of Moondance and of The Road to Donetsk is running an introduction to creative writing session. With her, @Blackbird_Bks publisher and author Stephanie Zia. They’ll be using some exercises and ideas from Creative Writing: the Matrix. And if you can’t make the November date, there’s December and January too! #amwriting Kitchen table writing class, click here for info
This cheeky chappy was my other companion on my @retreatsforyou week of toil and bliss last month. Wrestling a finished draft into something better. ‘Slay that dragon,’ said my brother. ‘It’s a carp,’ said I. ‘Slay that carp doesn’t have the same ring to it,’ came the reply. Sounds like our editor-father speaking. Back in residence at my desk, the struggle continues. Looking for crevices and loopholes in the draft whereby to layer and develop characters and incidents = plot = a better story.
Meanwhile, nice boost, extra orders of Creative Writing: the Matrix, 95 exercises, 21 mini-lectures for creative writing teachers. Back to school in full swing. More here.
Pardon me, I didn’t identify the mystic owl lady of the last post. The painter is Remedios Varo, title Creation of the Birds (Creacion de las aves), in the Museo de Arte Moderno, Mexico City. 1957.
In this post, Utagawa Kuniyoshi in a colour woodblock: Sakata Kaido-maru wrestles with a giant carp. From the British Museum. 1837.
What helps you through? This was one of two companions I brought to Retreats for You to help me through a week of re-writing. Thank you Leonora Carrington. And resident tutor-editor Jayne Watson, and RfY hostess Debbie Flint. And fellow writers — even if you did go off to yoga or running through the lovely countryside as well as writing. More power to your elbow!