Recently a lovely blogger, Elin Gregory, left a comment on my previous posting and amongst her many nuggets of wisdom, which she freely and generously offered to me, a beginner in the wonderful world of fiction writing, there was one which stood out especially. Elinadvised that I write what I love.
It sounds so simple when it is written down here, a few clear, unencumbered, unadorned words which refer to something beautiful, something greater than the sum of its parts.
Write What You Love.
Of course being plagued with an over-analytical brain my first thought was to consider exactly what it is that I love. Ah now there’s the rub. Herein lies the problem, the conundrum, the challenge. For I confess that I love virtually everything in the inspiring galaxy of words. [Except for badly written books…or stories lacking plot…or believable characterization…or…..]
For starters I love fiction, no I adore losing myself in worlds and realms created in the heated imaginations of other writers. I love to bask too in the literary word play of many of the great creative non-fiction writers today, whose experimental approach to the personal essay leaves me often somewhat out of pocket and in trouble with my spouse for over-spending on my addiction to books. And then there’s poetry, though at least here I refrain from delusions of grandeur. I read the work of Mary Oliver, Dorianne Laux,Carol Ann Duffy, Jane Hirshfield, Ellen Bass, and Anne Micaels to name just a few of my favourite female poets, to inspire and prime my Muse. I even write my own poems, though they are too dreadful to share here. Suffice to say that I find the exercise of penning my own poems an excellent exercise in learning how to write with care, with an ear to how words sound, with respect for their meaning and effect.
So, back to the quandary, the immediate and apparently gargantuan dilemma of not only what, but how, to choose?
I have written before on the importance of reading for writing. With this in mind I considered which books, novels especially, I most enjoy reading, which works of fabulous fiction transport me away, and carry me back home utterly changed, my vision and world-view changed forever.
Years ago I wandered into my local bookshop and asked the poor unsuspecting bookseller if she had a title which fulfilled all the criteria I proceeded to enumerate. These included a page turning story, prose that read like poetry, a tale which would capture my imagination and stalk me in my dreams, a novel which I would not want to put down, a book which I would not want to end. She looked me in the eye and told me to go home and write it myself! Which is precisely what I am trying to do.
When I first set out on my voyage into the territory of the wild world of lyrical prose I began with a very hazy concept of what I ‘should’ do, a reasoned and somewhat reasonable approach to the craft of writing. Since then I have learned the importance, even the necessity, for my imagination to become ignited, to give my Muse the space and time to drift through my waking and sleeping hours, leaving traces of her coming behind, the trails of which I attempt to find whenever I sit down to write. For me this is the only way to Write What I Love.
Thank you Elin!