Journalling – like a private blog, before blogging was a thing…

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For years and years and years I kept a journal – which was like a private blog, before blogging existed. And no one read it – it was written for me. I wrote long-hand in various old exercise books, spiral bound note-books, hard backed art journals. I wrote it daily, charting my moods confessing thoughts and feelings, examining my life. Right through high school, university, into my first jobs I wrote in it fervently. I followed the advice of Natalie Goldberg and Julia Cameron. I wrote freely, sometimes in verse, shaping myself and my world into words. Perhaps when I started, the thought crossed my mind that I was record-keeping. That I was writing letters to posterity. But, that soon gave way as I got more and more interested in the act of writing itself. I was in love with the shape and texture of the words.
It was not until recently that I gave myself any credit for the work that went into this journalling. And not simply because of the accumulation of words, but the practicing I was doing, the trialling thought into expression, the word associations, the way I was learning to fictionalise my daily life.
Probably if I read those journals now they would make me shudder. (I suspect when in a fit of tidiness that strikes about every five years my father got rid of many of them, so they are lost to history – which is probably just as well.) What matters is that I was writing: that I wrote. Not the artefact of the books themselves but the experience writing them gave me. So that my later self could reach for the words, the way to shape that thought into language. The way to tag that character, open that descriptive paragraph.
So, to writers just starting, or those who are experiencing difficulties I would say begin a journal in an old exercise book and write (even just a little) daily.
Sometimes it feels that you have to write terribly to get anywhere near writing well. You need to clear the debris that’s clogging up your head. Keeping what may start as a record and act as a filter for the shite you need to get out before you can get at the good stuff.
I think this is what Ira Glass is talking about. He advocates working hard and keeping faith with yourself.
What else can you do?

Ira Glass Talks the Gape between your KILLER taste and the reality of your work.

Writing and Organisation – making time to dream….

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I cannot lie to you. I am not an organised creature. I am really happiest in flux, distracted by that weed that bends in the wind, whistling along to birdsong, scratching the back of my neck and remembering a smell from long ago – one recently took me back to afternoons in my father’s darkroom watching as black lines and patches appeared on the paper as it floated in the fixer…. see?
But, when it comes to the writing life the key is being organised.
Like with many things, say for instance getting fit or learning another language, you need persistence. But, you also need to file that persistence into an organised spearhead. Or at least, that is what has worked for me.
I have become a creature of lists, sticky notes and reminders. I have become strict about my time. And this is actually key because I have to factor in some time to dream, remember and doodle on my notepads.
Which is the difficult thing because with all this organisation its easy to get into a frame of mind where that part of the job is overwhelming, where the organiser in me re arranges the markers and files notes in alphabetical order somewhat strangling the dreamer.

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Writing

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As a writer of fiction and poetry I have many preoccupations and themes that fascinate me and that I find I return to again and again.  Here are five.

Firstly I am always writing about character’s presence in their environment, and the relationship they have with that environment.  This can simply be a physical landscape or can be internal emotional ‘placement’ or even their life online or within fictional space.

The nature of this fictional space is also something I explore in my fiction – things can get involuted quite quickly – I find it helpful to let the characters voice their own thoughts either through direct internal monologue or through allowing them to own the writing.

Much of my fiction revolves around characters writing their own experience in letters, emails and also confessions.  Allowing the reader to hear from the characters directly, and also allowing me, as the author, to disguise myself further.

Communication and the power of writing and of reading is a theme that emerges again and again in my work – both poetry and fiction.

Within the spectrum of my work women characters and the female narrative are central.  Recently, my poetry has revolved strongly around finding a voice for celebrating the domestic, child bearing, child rearing female experience.

Finally, making use of manifold perspective to create story is one of my preoccupations.  I have found it extremely challenging to write in many voices, but doing so enriches the story I’m telling.