Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Daily Pages

For the last four months (at least) I’ve written precious little – life has sort of taken precedence and somehow my creative life has been swept away. In an effort to bring that back and to create some discipline in my writing habit I’ve begun again to do Daily Pages. Many writers swear by this method – each and every day you sit down and simply write. Yes, I realise there is no ‘simply’ about the whole process of writing, but you can either sit for an hour without doing anything else (no temptations of the internet, telephones or televisions) or you can write one or two thousand words. Stephen King does this every day (if his book, ‘On Writing’ is to be believed) and we all know how prolific he is….Other writers use their daily pages as a journal or diary type exercise in which they simply write down how they’re feeling and what they’re thinking about. I’m not sure how I’m going to use my time right now, I suspect I’ll begin simply writing a journal and then wait to see if stories begin to populate the page.

So, I began yesterday…and here’s the result – remember this is just as I typed it, no editing, no censoring and therefore no good as a proper piece of writing but rather like training or playing scales – it’s all part of the writing process.

Second attempt at daily pages. I know i should be doing this long hand just to get used to the feel of the paper and pen, but here I am tapping away and to be honest i do find it quick and easy to just type. Probably not the best thing for writing because it goes almost as fast as I think...but maybe that’s a good thing.

If I handwrite all of this I’d be considering, probably, each and every word I put down – thinking about sentence construction and grammar and how it would work. it would be a very conscious and possibly self-conscious act.

Quite possibly a very good thing as a run up to getting back onto the horse back of fiction – dear god what an appalling metaphor!

Anyway, typing sort of by-passes that internal critic and just allows me to write as it crosses my mind. i’d love to think that Virigina Woolf did it this way – just allowed her mind to go with the whole stream of consciousness thing, but having read ‘To the Lighthouse’ and seen how closely her writing in stream of consciousness resembles poetic prose like that of Marlene Dumas – no, no, no. Dumas is a painter. I’m actually thinking about Marguerite Duras! Who wrote ‘Hiroshima Mon Amour’ and the beautiful ‘Moderato Cantabile’ which I was introduced to when I did my masters.

Anyway, that’s all notes to remind me of stuff, but doesn’t get away from the fact that when I write a stream of consciousness or even a bit of poetic prose, I just let myself ramble on. Well, I do at least for the first draft. When I go back to it then I begin (I hope) to actually craft it and shape it.

and I’m writing that and my prissy conscience is being very snippy here and saying, ‘Hmmm, and when was the last time you wrote or redrafted something then?’ True. This makes me feel like an alcoholic or a drug addict who has lapsed and is hiding something, lying to myself.

First drafts are just jumble sales of words, aren’t they?

Oooh! I’ve just had a message pop up to tell me I’ve received an email from P. And i need a pee...coincidence? Or am I just finding it really hard to pin myself down to the page these days?

And the funny thing is that I adore writing – I adore creating stories about people who populate my head, different versions of me who can do things I can’t. Different versions of me who can be angry about that lost gym kit which wasn’t lost at all, if only you’d bothered to look! Versions of me who can tell people to stick it. Versions of me who can say, Yeah, thanks for being a five minute friend, really appreciate it, now f**k off.

All versions of me who don’t bother to think about consequences, other people’s feelings, other people’s circumstances and how life affects us all differently. A wild and free version of me – impulsive and probably rather unpleasant. Not at all like the lovely, cheerful, generous, and quietly seething real version.

Still need that pee.

Still haven’t decided if hand written or typed is the way to go. At the moment the typed is wining over just because it’s quick and easy. Surely that ‘s the best way to decide? Whatever is quick and easy and suits you?

There is no right answer.

Writing long hand is just so labourious. But also that’s what can potentially make it really good – fiction I’m talking about here. And even poetry – it works better somehow if it’s written down first. I can’t write poetry on a screen, but fiction just seems to pour out maybe because for me it’s more direct. Or because it keeps up with the action carrying on in my head. Who knows?

I need to go for a pee now, otherwise I’ll wet myself and my coffee will get cold – it’s been sitting there for the past half hour at least. And I’ve not checked that email either – I’m being very disciplined. I wonder if I’ll be able to keep this up?

I really ought to check out my old diaries from my teens. I’m sure most of it is utter rubbish, but who knows? There may be something worth reading there. And I’m only 260 words from reaching my target of 1,000 words!

I really need to find something to write about rather than these tired ramblings. I can see I’ll get a blog post out of this but no fiction and fiction is what I want to write these days. I love writing stories and I miss it. Maybe that’s what I need to remind myself of – my love of writing stories. I used to make stories up when i was a child, write them down, tell myself new stories, read old stories.

I still read but the writing of stories seems to have waned a little recently . Life does tend to push things into the background sometimes.

I miss stories.

I’ve a few in draft form that probably need rewriting and might be worth submitting to some places...I have mixed feelings about doing that too – what if nowhere will accept them? What if...what if...but if I never send them, I’ll never know. And who really cares?

Never, ever let yourself do things or not do things because you’re worried about what people say. Especially when those people are people you don’t know or maybe even like.

do things because you’ve got nothing to lose. Okay, roll out the clich├ęs now. I’ve got hundreds of them.

Cliches are a writer’s version of the yellow post it note – it’s there screaming at you telling you that you need to change this phrase in the rewrites because it’s hackneyed and bland. This is where you put in your snazzy new version which really says what you need it to say to get across your version of the world.

And I’m over 1,000 words and still need a pee and my coffee is still waiting to be drunk.

The good news is that I don’t think that writing this took me more than about 30 minutes. It may not be good, but it was quick.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010


I’ve read a couple of rave reviews for the latest Toy Story film and I’ve now got mixed feelings about seeing it. I didn’t see the first one when it came out, I finally watched it when I’d got children of my own and the second one had just been released. Toy-Story-3

What’s not to like about Woody and Buzz? A wonderful story about friendship and trust backed up with a strong script and enough in jokes to keep an entire lecture on intertexuality going strong. But Toy Story 3 is by all accounts a real tear-jerker and that puts me off going – not because I don’t like tear-jerkers, on the contrary, I love them but I don’t like to cry in public.

Crying in public, in my family at least, is a sign of weakness. Not that we’d say that because we’re as buttoned up as the local haberdashery. Unfortunately this is all at odds with my natural inclination to sob at every available opportunity. Someone’s dog dies? Someone’s dog rescues them? A child wins a race in the face of adversity? Man lands on the Moon? A town gets flooded? All of them bring on the same effect – I cry. When I was studying fine art I was accused of being over sentimental in my work – no surprise there.

So I try to avoid occasions that will end up with me all puffy faced and snotty – it’s not a good look. Unfortunately that’s almost impossible as I try to deal with my twelve year old son’s recent diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes. I went to see our family GP a couple of weeks ago to ask him to help us with getting my son, R an insulin pump because his life will be more close to normal with one and he’ll have better control over his condition. Our GP was great and hopefully R will be on a pump by the end of the year. The meeting itself was a total car-crash of emotions. I couldn’t even get the first sentence out without becoming blotchy, sweaty and high-pitched. I did a lot of fanning my face – you know, the action you see emotional women do on films when it all becomes too much for them. The fanning is useless – it doesn’t cool you down or stop you from looking like a baby having a temper tantrum but it does give you something to do with your hand while you try to drag back the emotional tarpaulin that’s fallen over the side of stability and into the raging seas of loopy. Blowing out seems to go along with this too – I’ve no idea how it’s supposed to help but I seem to do a lot of it when I’m ‘emotional’ – I would say I picked it up at antenatal classes when I was pregnant but that would be a lie – I’ve got twins and it was decided very early on by my doctor that an elective caesarean was the way to go – no breathing exercises but instead a subscription to ‘Hello’ magazine for when you’re waiting around for the pesky kids to be delivered, washed and sent to your arms.

Maybe all the emotion swayed the GP into getting things moving quickly – anything to have the snotty, damp woman out of his surgery.


So you see I can’t go to the local multiplex and watch Toy Story 3 as much as I want to because I will sob. Loudly.