Writing for Myself

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Paul Whybrow

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Jun 20, 2015
Location
Cornwall, UK
If a writer wants to keep their sanity, it's best to enjoy the process of creating stories, at the very least. How you cope with editing and querying literary agents is another matter. :anxious-face-with-sweat:

At the moment, I'm preparing to enter the fray of social media posting and will be running two blogs—one on writing and publishing, the other more of a static website for my Cornish Detective series of novels. The first quarter of the year was eaten up with querying and editing posts I've made on the Colony in the last four years, which I'll use as a basis for my Paul Pens blog.

This was repetitive work, but to provide some thrills, I began a short story that's ballooned into a novella. I did little preparation for where the plot would go, simply starting with the premise of a widow observing an unknown male stranger dancing naked in a field on a summer day. I'm more of a pantser than a plotter, but I've never begun a story before without any structure at all. I feel a bit like a bird returning to its nest, from time to time, as I add some more chapters. I may be travelling hopefully, with no destination in mind, but I love the journey.

Controlling the fates of characters is thrilling.

326f21fb820201b10716bc8cbc282236.jpg


Anaïs Nin

As Anita Brookner admitted: You never know what you will learn 'til you start writing. Then you discover truths you never knew existed.

That's what I'm finding, as I add to my novella, that is branching out in unexpected directions. While preoccupied with learning about themes, plug-ins, categories, posts and pages on my WordPress blog, I'm delighted that the creative part of my brain is quietly working away, gently nudging me with suggestions for my neglected tale of a hedge witch meeting a paranoid man with arcane knowledge that he won't admit to.

Stories can be lifebuoys in the maelstrom of life—both in the reading and writing of them.

Recently, I read Leonard Cohen's Stranger Music, which compiles many of his published poems and song lyrics. I liked this poem about the creative process, which gels with how I feel about why I'm writing:

The Only Poem

This is the only poem
I can read
I am the only one
can write it
I didn’t kill myself
when things went wrong
I didn’t turn
to drugs or teaching
I tried to sleep
but when I couldn’t sleep
I learned to write
I learned to write
what might be read
on nights like this
by one like me


Leonard Cohen


If you're not writing for yourself it won't ring true.

We're writer and reader combined.

Aren't we?

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I came across a quote from David Bowie, in an article linked from Austin Kleon's stimulating blog newsletter, which gibes with my approach to writing for myself.

Never play to the gallery.... Never work for other people in what you do. Always remember that the reason that you initially started working was that there was something inside yourself that you felt that if you could manifest in some way, you would understand more about yourself and how you co-exist with the rest of society.... I think it’s terribly dangerous for an artist to fulfill other people’s expectations.

David Bowie Offers Advice for Aspiring Artists: “Go a Little Out of Your Depth,” “Never Fulfill Other People’s Expectations”
 
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