My Writing Journey
For as long as I can remember I’ve been a voracious reader and like most readers I would, occasionally indulge the idea of writing something of my own, one day; just not today, and possibly not tomorrow either. I allowed the usual doubts, lack of confidence and no end of procrastination to always get in the way. Writing, like anything creative was something best shelved until another time I thought; something I might get around to, maybe when I retire. In the meantime I carried on reading and being in awe of seamless prose from the likes of; William Trevor, Raymond Carver, Tobias Wolf and so many other heroes too numerous to mention.
The gentle tug to scribble something, anything which might just have a resonance for someone else was never too far away however and every now and then I’d read one of those, “how to write creatively” books. More often than not I only wound up feeling even more despondent and disconnected from the creative process than when I began.
In 2012 I read, Writing down the Bare Bones by Natalie Goldberg and discovered that some books are truly capable of shifting your perspective. In the space of some two hundred pages Natalie continually warms to her theme which is; if you want to write, just write. It really is that simple, she said. A little less encouragingly she then went on to suggest; course most of what you write will be truly awful. It is however, the tiny threads of gold in the mountains of dross which Natalie encourages you to pan for, and by pulling enough of the threads together you just might come away with something you’re okay with. In the meantime she was an advocate of simply enjoying the writing journey for its own sake and not to concern yourself too much with the destination; allow it to be a meditation to your life, she said. It was the sort of pragmatic logic I had been looking for. I haven’t been able to stop writing since.
My early efforts to write creatively proved at least one of Natalie Goldberg’s assertions to be completely correct; the bit about most of what you write being truly awful. In my case it truly was. Then after I’d been panning for a while I managed to find a few pieces which may not have been exactly gold but maybe gave the impression of glistening a little in a similar fashion.
In 2013 I scraped some courage together to go along to a writing group, The Bow Warf writers. I’m not sure what I was expecting other than the fact that my writing probably wouldn’t fit in, even though I was made to feel very welcome. The group operates on a casual basis with members simply reading aloud what they have been working on and others offering encouragement and constructive comments. When it came to reading my work for the very first time other members laughed out loud. I took this as an encouraging sign as the piece in question was intended as comical.
After the usual settling in period it became clear that the writing group provided the sort of safe and easy going environment in which to try out stories and voices; it’s main focus being all about the writing. For me reading aloud in front of others helped to situate the story in my head as well as show up any weakness in the narrative.
With the support of other group members I started entering writing competitions and much to my surprise I’ve managed a degree of success.
That is the story of my journey into writing and I hope it isn’t and won’t be over for some time to come. I continue to write on a daily basis mostly with competitions, and magazines in mind but I also remain hopeful that the stalking idea for a novel is out there also. I may just have to pan a little harder for that one however. My back catalogue of short stories continues to expand and in so doing hopefully one or two will surface in a more public setting.
I believe stories to have transformative powers. Like exotic butterflies however, it’s not always easy to net them though.