1 December 2010

Being Seen

I find the hardest thing about writing is its need to be seen.  While I scribble away in private, I am safe and comfortable and forty years can pass without any pain or risk of rejection.  Now, if my writing is to have any life, I have to stand up here and shout about it.

By some very contrary mechanism, my urge to hide has been overtaken by the desire to have my work validated, appreciated and enjoyed by a wider audience than can be provided by family and friends.  My family and friends are amazed that I can write at all and have critical faculties that are blinded by love and kindness.

Writing workshops provided me with a first opportunity for gentle airing, though one course I attended involved sitting around getting pissed and not writing anything in the company of people who liked sitting around getting pissed and didn't write much even when they were sober.  The best writing course I have encountered is Freefall, run by an amazing lady called Barbara who I respect and love to pieces. http://www.freefallwriting.com/
Eventually, my confidence lifted high enough to send the script of my first completed novel to an editor, John Jarrold.  He liked the writing, loved the plot and the story, enjoyed most of the characters apart from one.  This one was the main character, our hero, and completely ruined the book.  Nobody could possibly be interested in this character, he said, nobody could possibly like him and nobody would care if he lived or died.  He was an arse, a total dick, a waste of time. I was quite disappointed with this.  The character was not only central to the story but also pretty much autobiographical.

After a few years of reflection, I have grasped the points John made and come to terms with them.

Awareness is a wonderful thing for writers to cultivate in their characters and themselves.  I am certainly trying.