I've always loved words. I used to have quotes on Post-Its around my room, lyrics scrawled on walls and notebooks, snippets from poems jotted down in a book full of sketches and scribbles. I still keep a collection of quotes like the one above from The Swimming-Pool Library by Alan Hollinghurst, in my head, written in the margins of research notes or tabbed in books with well-thumbed pages. Because I have hoarded quotes like gold over the years, many remind me of specific people or certain moments in time and take on a deeply personal and nostalgic quality. I have always been fascinated by that affective power of words, the way they make people feel things when they're put together just so.
Stories are never a one-way street, they are a dialogue between author and reader. Reception is tied to the way readers approach stories with their own experiences, preoccupations, desires and relationship to reading. I started writing, speculatively, because part of me wondered if I could wield words in a way that might one day mean something to someone else. I continued writing when I realised how much putting words together on paper means to me.
Learning that telling stories is allowed to be a selfish thing was an important first step in getting to this point, with a few decent short stories in draft. I have had to adjust my mindset to push aside the niggling doubts that fester as I take the first steps towards publication. This involves working out the things that help me feel creatively inspired when my days are already consumed by large volumes of reading and writing, together with identifying things that leave me completely blocked. Freewriting has been a great way to get started and I have got into the habit of starting every new short story or piece of flash fiction with a quick prompt and a piece of unedited writing that may never be used as anything more than a stretching of limbs. Freewriting also helps to break down those mental blocks caused by self-doubt, it dusts off the cobwebs and gets me in the right head space to begin working. I'll talk about that more in a later post, together with sharing some examples of freewriting exercises I have undertaken on my own and in creative writing groups.
I have always worked best with other people, chatting about writing with friends, sharing story ideas and bouncing around concepts. Writing can be an inherently isolating process, but I am fortunate enough to have belonged to large, vibrant fan communities for well over a decade, where storytelling is a collaborative process of sharing ideas, working with proof readers, alpha readers, beta readers, interacting with comments on stories and providing my own comments and recommendations on works by other writers and artists. My time in fan communities has meant much of my writing to date has had this interactive, collaborative quality. This blog is designed to capture something of that interactive engagement as I find my way around writing and publishing original fiction.
So what can you expect from this blog? I plan to share my highs and lows of working on original fiction, the things I learn along the way and my thoughts on writing as they pertain to my own creative process. This will include: