Thursday, 15 October 2009

Bottom drawer

I’ve been thinking about the number of writing projects that don't get finished: the idea doesn’t hold water, we lose the plot, the characters are ill formed or we just simply lose interest. Maybe we get diverted by a better project comes along. Most writers can't bear to get rid of the work they’ve done even when they’ve veered off track. Most of it gets relegated to the bottom drawer, a kind of burial ground for the unfinished.It’s a location we should never underestimate for its richness. Out of that mound of incomplete work, we can excavate treasure. We need patience. It can take years to resurrect an idea or fuse it together with a newer brighter one. The work is there waiting, in its seeded format. Even looking at writing in out formative stages as creative and expressive souls can, at the very least, show us where our writing strengths have developed. Digging around in the bottom drawer can be a fruitful adventure. Don’t be afraid to reach in.

Sunday, 11 October 2009


I’ve been sitting in spring sunshine, enjoying the draft work of some of my writer friends. We’re workshopping each other’s pieces. Seeing if we can help fine tune the work. It’s done without envy but when fellow writers are talented, we’re often left wondering why we bother to sit at the PC. In the grand scheme of things, many writers have grave doubts about their ability. No matter how successful, it’s easy to wonder where the next idea is coming from, the next publication or worse—for those of us new to the game—will there ever be one? It’s one of the reasons we don’t to write. We procrastinate, because we aren’t convinced that what we produce will be good enough. The reality is unless we start there is nothing to edit, to fine tune, to finesse. Getting out of this mental mire is tricky. One thing that works for me is this: when I can't think of the first line, I write the second, or the third or one that may end up in the middle. I write my way through the doubt and past the voice in my head, telling me the writing isn’t good. On occasions, the voice is right. On others, the click-clack of the keyboard has to be consistent enough and loud enough to drown the critic out. Sometimes I use an old school method, a fountain pen. The scratch of the nib on the paper can also mute the critique. Constant attention to the page is what breaks through the barrier. My talented writing friends are not without their own doubts and insecurities. Yet they have produced their drafts and offered them trustingly to others to rip and repair. It’s almost a sacred duty in which the writing of others serves as an inspiration to rein in our reluctance and keep going. Once, it’s on the page, the critic is silenced and the critique can begin.