Diehards

Saturday, 27 October 2007

Walking while chewing gum

A couple of months ago I started a post grad degree in writing. I have been sucked into a world of critically analysing the tools of the writing trade: narrative stance, point of view, free indirect discourse, diegetic, mimetic, motifs... It's like being stuck in a foreign country where they speak English but in a different way, and my life depends on understanding and making myself understood. I spend hours trawling through the work of writers trying to find clues. Then more hours trying to write using what I've learned, using those newly acquired tools. But they are unwieldy in my hands, or rather my brain. So I spend more hours staring into space.

The result: time evaporates. I find I have no clean clothes to wear, no food in the fridge, fifty six unread emails in my inbox: I have done nothing in days, weeks even.

So on Thursday I took some time out to make a timetable factoring in all the things I need to do on a regular basis in order to live a normal life. Hopefully, once this becomes routine I will be able to function fully once more.

I'm not naturally an organised person, I have to impose structure on myself. Each time I take up something new I have to reinvent the wheel to fit it in, or, rather, fit the rest of my life around it because the new thing always takes over for a while.

Anyway, all this is a sort of extended apology for ignoring all my blogging friends but from now on I hope to be back on track. My plan is to spend, a mere, fifteen minutes a day working on a post and another fifteen doing the rounds. Once a week I should then actually be able to post something. I have a squillion ideas for posts knocking about in my head. All I need do now is get them out...

15 comments:

Carole said...

It is hard to become involved with a new learning curve without putting everything else out of mind. And it is so unfair that some are naturally organized. I'm not either, but I make small attempts that last for oh, two or three minutes. Good luck with the post grad degree in writing. Sounds difficult.

Mary Witzl said...

Yay -- a new post from you! I knew that this was almost certainly what had happened, Eryl, and please accept my full sympathies.

I am of two minds about taking a writing class. Part of me knows that I need it, and part of me also knows that once I've started learning the nuts and bolts of it, I'll stop writing. It's bad enough as it is: when I read now, I'm constantly on the look-out for devices, and heavy handed or awkward prose, and I am ALWAYS finding the latter in what I have written. It's as though I cannot enjoy reading just for the sheer pleasure of it: I am alternately stunned by the beauty and poetry of certain phrasing and distressed over the odd bit of infelicitous phrasing. When I sit down to write, I feel like a centipede suddenly aware it has all those legs

PI said...

Learning about writing is fine - as long as it doesn't stop you writing. When in doubt just write and write and write. It'll come right in the end:)

Eryl Shields said...

Carole ~ I am always awe struck when I meet a naturally organised sort: where does that ability come from? There are one or two areas in which I am organised but these are hard won gains that I am always in danger of losing. And there are several that I have lost over the past few months. Now I am going to have to work really hard to win them back before rats take up residence in my house.

Mary ~ I thought that too, that learning the nuts and bolts would stop my pen and for a minute or two it did. Now, however, I am writing more than ever, I can't seem to stop. I don't edit as I write though, that is for later and is probably the real work.

Pi ~ Yes, you're right: I tend to write in a state of semi-consciousness. Whether anyone else will want to read it though is another matter.

Mary Witzl said...

Writing and editing are definitely two separate processes. They say that some people do both at the same time, and I've always liked to think I could do this too. To cure myself of this notion, I just reread what I've written.

Eryl Shields said...

Me too, but sometimes I am afraid to reread my stuff. I think this is because I know that this is when the real work begins, that's why this course is good for me, it makes me work. Hopefully by the end of it I'll have formed good habits.

Kim Ayres said...

Is there anything on the course about reading stories out loud? Or is storytelling seen as a cruder cousin to writing?

Eryl Shields said...

The oral tradition is often cited as the font from which the novel, poem, etc flows. And we read our own and other's work out regularly. William Faulkner's short stories really come alive when read out loud. It is absolutely required for poetry to be read out loud otherwise the rythms are lost.

So, nothing really formal, no training for reading out loud is given but writing is taught as just another form of storytelling and so we explore ways of reading along with ways of writing.

Actually, I might record a poem for the storytellers blog.

Kim Ayres said...

Just listen to your poem on the Storytellers Blog and it's superb. I really enjoyed it :)

Eryl Shields said...

Thanks Kim!

PI said...

As Kim mentioned reading out loud may I say something that was on my mind? In the preliminary chat Kim mentioned timing and that ideally it should be under 5 minutes. I'm just afraid that the pressure of trying to keep under tends to make us read, may be a little too quickly, which often occurs when one first starts. Shoot me down in flames if you Don't agree.

Dr Maroon said...

That bastard Kim.
Oh, NOW he likes poetry?
What about Schizoid Haiawatha?

Anyway, nice to see you back. Being taught how to write sounds pretty good, pretty jammy actually.

Oh, and what Pat says. Spot on.

Kim Ayres said...

Pat, I think any length is acceptable, I just thought for a first post it would be a good idea to keep it less than 5 minutes just to get the hang of what the processes are. Starting off with a 4 hour epic has more opportunities for things to go wrong, and mabe less people would listen to it, but there's no strict time limit

And Maroon - better than Hemorrhoid Haiawatha.

Sorry for hijacking your comments for a moment Eryl...

Eryl Shields said...

Pat ~ You may have something there. Not necessarily because of what Kim wrote but because of nerves and maybe out of a fear of boring people...

Doc ~ Thanks, and yes it does feel rather jammy especially as we are a class of two with a bunch of teachers all writers and all passionate to get us to where we want to be.

Kim ~ No worries :)

Sam, Problem-Child-Bride said...

No need to explain, hun. Life is busy and we understand, particularly when something is absorbing as much of your attention, intellect and creativity as your course sounds. If it wasn't you wouldn't be doing it right. It sounds great. I really hope you show your teachers that poem you did on Storytellers.