Wednesday, 11 January 2012
Creative Writing - Progress Report 2
Not easy, this writing lark. In fact, it's downright hard. For years I've translated other people's words, written reports for conferences, political tracts, articles and polemical essays. I've written long letters and journals. But I've never written anything which is entirely about myself. This blog is my first experience of writing in the first person singular.
First thing to admit is that I've written several half chapters, but have completed none since Progress Report No. 1. I am floundering. I have several excuses, (I'm very good at excuses): I was unwell before Christmas and hardly able to think straight. Then came the festive season which always throws me. Since then it's been really hard to motivate myself. I have spent a lot of time thinking about the shape this memoir should take, how to get into it; I have drawn up outlines, copied some of the reminiscences posted on this blog to use as a basis for chapters to be fleshed out and mentally paraded the characters I intend to include.
I find it hard to stick to a schedule; there's always something else that gets in the way of writing. Should I opt for early mornings, before the day proper begins? But then Benno hears me moving about and wants attention; 'feed me and let me out', he whines. Should I opt for late evenings? I often blog late at night, or read. Reading is, of course, part of writing. Without regular and varied reading there is no writing.
After breakfast jobs need doing around the house, there's laundry and tidying up, there are meals to be prepared. After lunch it's dog walking, shopping, etc., you all know the score. Being retired should mean that the days are entirely at my disposal. Fat chance! On at least one or two days a week I am not at home at all.
Another problem I've come up against, is that blogging is entirely different from reading or writing seriously. I enjoy blogging, I've made friends I would never otherwise have made, but the blogging and writing mindset are different. I know some of you disagree, but I find writing requires me to concentrate fully, for hours, on the same subject; it requires focus. With blogging I can stop and start, read a few posts, write one, comment here and there; it doesn't matter how often I am interrupted, I can always go back later. Once my writing thread is interrupted, it's hard to get back into the flow. Beloved is a problem here, he thinks I might like a cup of tea, or he comes and asks me what he should do about vegetables for supper, say.
Then there's research. As this memoir is set in a different country from the one I live in, research is something I can't do by looking up the local records. Not everything is available on the internet. I may have to employ somebody to dig up names and help me with exactly pinpointing dates and events. Historical facts need checking; although this memoir is about my own memories, they need to be placed in context, otherwise the whole thing makes no sense.
Ideas and advice, please, from all you writers and wannabe writers out there who read this blog, and if there are writers amongst those of you who remain in the shadows, who neither comment nor join, but read (I know you are out there, Google has told me), I'd be grateful for your input too. How do you/did you overcome lack of motivation and discipline?