MAKING WRITING YOUR PLEASURE

People who write are part of a creative community. There is no doubt, if we didn’t enjoy what we do, why would we be spending hours in front of our computers or bent over a notepad to pull a flow of words from seemingly nowhere? Not only that, turn those words into stories to make them into fiction or non-fiction. We nurture those sentences into shapes and colours of life. We inject ourselves or other people in there, and place them into events, situations, conflict, resolves, romance, murder, journeys, and memories.

After that, begins the real suffering, or as I call it the pain and pleasure, of editing. Going over and over and over, again and again and again, over what started as a gorgeous love affair between you and your words into a marriage full of conflict, passion, wayward feelings, taking you through sentences, words, commas, full stops, and other bits of shapes jumping uneasily inside paragraphs. You suffer, you bleed, you’ve had enough, a light shines brightly on a beautiful line that you fall in love with, and then continue into the dark world of doubt.

When you sat down in the first place, you were full of expectations, desire, hope, an idea scratched inside of you that you had to give birth to. The first words were the new baby, a life, just starting. You looked at it with love-filled eyes, fed it the best morsels of your creativity, wiped its doodoos with your endless edits and when it wasn’t even old enough, you started to consider how you would introduce this new child into a harsh world.

Here we are, all of us, playing with words, escaping into ideas, and willing others to love our love-child. No matter what, we have to go on. The compulsion to keep writing might have holidays but, sooner or later, it reclaims us, and we chase those words into a new horizon of story.

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FINISHED WRITING THAT BOOK?

Just when you think you have finished, you have written everything you wanted to write, created the story, the journey, the experiences, who is in your book and who isn’t. Just when you are so pleased that you’ve done ‘it’. You have put down around 90,000 words, more or less. Three hundred pages, more or less. You’ve edited like crazy or as they say, till your eyes bleed from looking at the material over and over, adding, cutting, changing. One day you love your writing. Another day you wonder what the hell was I thinking, writing this drivel? Friends are fairly redundant, because they usually say, you are so good or gently remind you that there are many people writing and that you are a drop in the ocean of books.

Okay, so you’ve gone beyond that. You feel that its time for a professional editor to go at it and see what you don’t, fix what you can’t, advise what you should. Finding the right editor is as complex as writing the book in the first place. Search, check out their qualifications, ask for recommendations, and of course, sift through the agonies of costs, anything from you can afford it to what are you? A millionaire! So you FINALLY find an editor you are happy about, but there is still work. You have to do all the fixing up, either from Tracking (which I don’t particularly like, my computer/s refuse to make the comment box big enough for me to read whats in it, and I sit there with a magnifying glass glued to my computer screen). Highlights help, and typed up pages of suggestions do too, but it means going over the whole thing again. This time your eyes are not bleeding anymore, they feel like sandpaper has attached itself to your eyeballs. Still, you go ahead.

What about your book cover? Ah, you have an idea that what you want is so fabulous that anyone who sees it will pick up your book immediately, read the brilliant blurb you have written on the back, and rush to buy your book. Ha ha ha. First you have to find the cover designer, and there is a forest of options. There is Fivrr, and templates that you can fiddle with to get something vaguely resembling what was in your head in the first place, or, you find a package that will provide someone to ‘design’ your cover. Still, a part of the cost factor. You provide them with your idea, tell them they are the creative person so you leave the magic up to them…. And you wait impatiently for their first submission to you, oh dear, that’s not what you really had in mind, never mind, they will fix it, but its a template, so it will take I don’t know what, because its not my field, but they are sweeties and come back with some ‘fixed-up’ covers, eventually you settle for what is close enough to your vision.

After that, unless you know how to format and upload your book, you leave it to the expert that you have hired to do the rest.

Did I say the rest? Foolish one, the rest is the promotion … Do you have the savvy, the money, the contacts, the chutzpah (cheek) to chase every cat and its buddies to promote your much cherished creative outpourings? Some do? Most don’t. Can you possibly pester everyone you know, half know, don’t know, meet in cafes, your social media buddies and people who don’t even speak English to buy and read your book. Actually, buying it takes precedence over reading it.

Please don’t let me put you off, there are rewards to writing a book, don’t expect it to buy you a flash car or dream home, unless of course, you have the marketing skills of that wretched piece of number shades of grey, person. The big deal is, you’ve done it, you have crossed from the dream through to the creative process, into the whole journey of getting your book out there, and finally, there it is, on the public arena, WOW, that’s huge, and you can hold your novel to your chest with the pure joy of having ‘achieved it’.

Oh, I didn’t tell you, my autobiography, “Sometimes the Music”  is currently in ‘the process’ so I’m writing from the vagaries of my own experience.

Helene Grover – The Pleasure of Writing

 

 

WHAT TO WRITE

I often hear “I don’t know where to start” or “I’ve got writers block” or some such thing. In reality, there is always something to write about, something to focus on that only you, from your personal perspective can find the words to express, that come from your creative self.

I suggest that you don’t dismiss a moment, fleeting as it may be, to grab and hold, think about, and use as inspiration to move forward and write, something. That moment could be, what you see, perhaps someone bending down to tie their shoelace, licking an ice cream, an interaction with someone in a shop. For instance, I was in a furniture department store a few days ago, I was lucky to have an extremely helpful young man take the effort to help me look for pieces of furniture that I needed. I noticed that he had large tattoos at the lower end of his left arm, and while sitting, testing a lounge chair I ultimatly bought, I asked him “what are your tattoos about?” skull, sword, flower, rose in a vase, and he explained it in great detail, that the sword represented the pains in life, which led to the beauty of the rose.  He also told me that everyone in his family had a tattoo of some kind. There was also a snake in there, and when I asked what that represented, he told me that he had two pet snakes, one, often went went him in his pocket, and the other, larger one, was a rescue one and quite aggressive. All I could think of, was how I could transpose that into a story, and how much more there was to this polite, friendly young man.

Apart from talking with people, I look at objects as if they were new discoveries and think about how they could become a story, or how could a paragraph about something, fit into the novel that I am writing.

Somewhere, within every individual is a creative creature that may need the prompt of bringing it to the surface, to flex its muscles, to stretch and think, and feel, and find the story, to play with words, ideas, use them, delete them, alter them or start again. Writing is a delicious trip that is as satisfying as finding new places and countries.

Just do it.

 

Sharing Writing Needs

Many of us are deeply engaged in our writing projects, and as I mentioned in my recent post, it could be anything from a blog, short story or novel. When our creative endeavours are completed, we begin to wonder about ‘what next.’ “How do I connect with the next phase of my creativity? Editing, artwork, layout, and most important, “how do I get my new baby out there?”

If you have social media, go post it on facebook, on twitter, connect it with linkedin, and whatever else. Send an attachment of your sweated over writings, to your nearest, dearest and maybe interested prospects.

However, if you are looking to reach a bigger audience, and maybe raise some dollars for your endeavours, then we are heading towards a bigger pond, where the fish are bigger and juicier. Thats where the right tools and bait are necessary, and thats what requires focused research, connecting with people who can help you with all the whats and hows, and the all important streams of marketing.

I found that gathering a few people together with the right knowledge, and experience, we can swap skills that can be of benefit to all. A few of us found that one person knows how to put a blog together, another one, how to put together layout and upload, another, ideas for promotion. And all together, exchange and explore what we can achieve.

And we come away, inspired, informed, and excited to keep going. Me: my memoir, another: her children’s book, and another avid writer: a most interesting blog about supermarket shopping. And believe me, they are very good at what they do.

So, we’ve decided to put together a group to share what each knows best.

FOR THE SAKE OF WRITING

You don’t have to write a novel, a story, a memoir or anything else that is seen as a reason for writing.

You don’t have to produce ‘something’ that shows the world that you can put words together to form ideas that spring from the wells of your creativity.

All you have to do, is decide, take a leap into places where the combination of your words can take you – Where what you observe, feel, do, remember, can come to life on a page, whether its on paper or a computer.

What happens afterwards, is where you choose to play with your words.

Everyone Has a Story

Again, I am conducting the ‘Writing for Pleasure’ program at both libraries, Margaret Martin, Randwick, and Bowen in Maroubra. The new project is writing short pieces from interviews with people about their stories.

Every person has a story, who they are, where they come from, personal stories and histories, what highlights have occurred during their lives, and its up to us as writers to find the best of these stories and bring them to life.

I am excited that we now have not only some regulars, but also new people who are joining us for this latest adventure. My first idea was to call the book, Stories from the Street, but some people were daunted by the idea of confronting strangers about their lives. Its easy for me to talk to strangers, I have the dog who is the great catalyst for getting to know people, it usually starts with,”What a cute dog, what’s his name?” “Its Rambo, but its no use talking to him because he’s deaf, loves socializing though,” and then we are off on a conversation. Sometimes, a person just comes and sits next to me on the bench and starts talking about their life, it must be my face or maybe I have big ears.

“Everyone has a story” is a  more accessible idea, at least most of the time we are a little more familiar with the people next door, hairdresser, shop keeper or even someone you vaguely know.  Everyone in our two groups is excited about the project and I hope to have the book finished with all the stories by the end of the year, and printed by sometime early next year.  Its such a joy to see everyone excited that they are going to participate in a project of having something they have written in print and part of a book. Last year’s book, “A Patchwork of Stories” is now in the National Library and available for the general public to read.

In the meantime, I am still working laboriously on editing my own memoir, its feels like its been FOREVER.

Writing is one of the great pleasures of life, loosing yourself in the process of creativity, whether its formulating an imaginary story from the ethers or chasing your memories to share with the world at large, playing with it, polishing it and nursing it like a newborn child with the milk of your imagination.

Happy writings.

Helene

READ READ READ

I wonder if anyone knows how many books are in the world.

I wonder how many authors there are on this planet.  Then of course, there are authors, writers, continuous editors and all kinds of scribbling in between.

I wonder what is that itch that tickles the individual to start writing something. Surely it must be a lot more than the psyche’s scream to be heard and for the creative soul to be seen.

For me, I remember standing on my brother’s bed that was pushed against the wall over which was a shelf full of books.  I was too little to read then, I was even too little to reach any of those books but a little weeny voice, maybe it was that of some dead poet who spoke to me that one day I would read all the books in the world and as soon as the funny squiggles that were letters became words that I could miraculously read, I found my hungry place.  My first snacks were the wonderful Russian fairy tales book that my brother used to bring home for me and the stories about Bambi and Snow White and all that came along with that, in French of course because we lived in Paris.

My dad was Russian and spoke of Chekhov and Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky and it wasn’t until I could master English and grew up in Australia I found that they had become my main dishes along with Guy de Maupassant, Flaubert, Daudet, Emile Zola, I even read the Bronte sisters.  I discovered Sartre and Camus that put me in a more contemporary and free thinking frame of mind.   Someone suggested I read Salinger’s Catcher in The Rye, of course I had to get to the futuristic works of Orwell and Aldous Huxley, I had to read Kurt Vonnegut,   Shakespeare happened at school.  The fads came with J.R.R. Tolkien with his Lord of the Rings and I swallowed all the intricate philosophical novels of Herman Hess.  Lost myself in the hallucinations of the works of Carlos Castaneda.  Travelled to other planets with Asimov and a plethora of Science Fiction.  I light deserted out on Agatha Christie and much later found Margaret Atwood, D.H. Lawrence where I drooled over Lady Chatterly’s Lover not to mention Nabokov’s Lolita.  A touch of Evelyn Waugh brought me some British again.  I suddenly remember the marvellous controversy that Philip Roth brought to my eyes with his Portnoys Complaint and everyone was buzzing that how could such a genius writer put words on paper about masturbation, let alone to be made into a movie.

Of course I read some rubbish, I can’t remember what it was and not especially because it was rubbish but I also can’t remember the mountain of fabulous novels by extraordinary authors that all are sitting gently in the deepest corners of my memories and can mostly be retrieved when I see their names in print, some have also become yellow with age on my bookshelves.

I don’t know if reading all those authors who were and are the architects of all those miraculous stories, created that itch in me to write, if those marvelous geniuses reached out to entice me to write, to find my own voice, to humbly follow in their footsteps.

There is no way that I can possibly understand anyone who thinks of writing, unless its for their own pleasure and family, who have not been stirred by the emotional constructions of those past and present authors and feel that something has been learnt and a unique weaving of stories emerges from the aspiring author.

IF YOU WANT TO WRITE, READ, READ AND READ SOME MORE AND REACH OUT TOWARDS THE DIVERSITY OF THE MANY GENRES, STORIES AND MEMORIES.