Saturday, 13 June 2015

Helen...On Writing

It's difficult to explain how I write to anyone else because it tends to vary depending on my mood and also where I am. Before I get started on that, however, I'd better try and explain why I write.

To be honest, I don't remember a time when I didn't.

When I was about six or seven, I developed an interest in history, after a family holiday to France. We visited some of the chateaux  in the Loire valley, and I wanted to know everything! Who lived there, when, why? 

Something in my imagination was sparked. It wasn't that I wanted to be a princess and live in them myself. It was an interest in what had been there, and who.

After we visited her room in Chateau de Chenonceau, I was fascinated by the life of Catherine de Medici.

When we arrived home, I asked my Mum to find out more about her. I was far too young to do research myself, so Mum did it for me, and made notes.

In a dark green exercise book, I then began to write about Catherine's life. I guess you could say that was my first 'book' of sorts.

I realised that I loved writing. I loved the feeling that I could fill the paper - and only me, - my way.

I was also aware, that I wasn't like other children. It wasn't possible for me to run, jump, skip, and play in the way that they did. I could write, though, and I had all these ideas, and questions, and colourful things coming into my mind, so I wrote them down.

A year later, Mum and I worked on another book, only this time, I wrote about Mary, Queen of Scots.

Through mum, and the way she was reading and finding things out from different books, I learnt the importance of research and opinions. She would say to me, 'well, this book thinks such and such, but this book thinks...'

So that stayed with me, and along with it, came a love of research, information, and randomness! I'm a very curious person, as I think most writers are.

You'll realise I started writing because it was a natural progression, as part of other interests, and something to do, but then magic happened - and words are magic!

The realisation that I could create worlds, stories, characters, and I could express my feelings, as time went on, became part of who I am, and it became an escape from whatever I was going through.
Writing is like being in another world, and when the words come, it's like nothing else exists. I love that. I love knowing that I can create anything, and the buzz that happens, as I do it, and when something is completed, is like a drug!

There is a sense of excitement, of happiness, that I can get in few other ways.

It is my constant, my passion, my ability, and being able to do it, makes up (at least in some ways), for all the things I can't do, and it can never be taken away from me.    

As for process, that's where it gets tricky, because there isn't one single way.

I always carry a notebook with me, because the smallest thing will give me an idea. Things like leaves floating, sounds of engines, snippets of conversation, debate, graffiti on toilet walls, movement, scents, music, anything!

I can't pretend it happens as often as it used to, these days, and it seems to happen in phases, and then disappear for a while, leaving me in a state of panic, mixed with an almost palpable feeling of loss. Doubting myself, and worrying that each piece I write, might be my last.

After all this time, what would I be without it? I can't imagine that, and I don't want to! It would be like ripping my heart out.

Usually, I will write the first draft of something in the notebook, and then edit it - also in the notebook. I like being able to see something taking shape. That is in danger of being lost, as we use computers more and more, and are able to delete something we aren't happy with. We are in danger of losing the spark, and freshness, if we are constantly getting rid of things, because we feel they aren't right.

After a draft, or two, I will then make a decision about what I do with it. Is it strong enough for a blog, would somebody else get more out of it, is it good enough to be read at all?

Sometimes it takes me a me a while to make that decision, and others, it will be instant, but I rarely throw anything away, and even when something appears completed, it often isn't. I will find a better to word, or think of something that I have left out, so it takes a lot for me to say 'yes, okay, that's done'.

Whatever happens in the future, wherever I am, whatever I'm doing or feeling, I know I will never be alone, because for as long as I have my words, I have somewhere to go. 


Chateau de Chenonceau  Wikipedia


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