I’ve written about writing before, both physical penmanship and mechanical; be it electronic or otherwise. It’s something that fascinates me, the way people can wrap words together to create inspiring pieces of work, be it fact or fiction. Writing some words and creating an understandable sentence is one thing but creative writing is something altogether different.
I have written a few articles in my time and even written a couple of short stories. I really want to write a tall story (the opposite of short!) and although I’ve made a few starts, I’ve inevitably sputtered and flamed out before I even got going. Short stories are a little easier for me as my ‘creative’ ability seems to come all at once then peter away. It’s like having sex, a lot of anticipation, frantic, uncoordinated action and then nothing. Or is that just me?
Perhaps I should think of a new metaphor?
I wrote a short story and put it on this site and asked people for their opinions. Ok, I asked my friends for their opinions, not random people. With the exception of one, all of the feedback was positive and they all said that I should try and write a complete novel. I was a little dubious for a couple of reasons. Firstly, they were all my friends and just a tad biased. Secondly, they were all seasoned liars. So I had my doubts. I needed an unbiased opinion.
I read about Collaborative Writing Challenge in a magazine and it piqued my interested. CWC is a group of people who write books together. My description doesn’t do CWC any justice so you’re better off visiting the website. Anyway, I contacted them and was eventually invited to write a chapter for the novel, Ark.
I wasn’t the only one invited to write the chapter. A number of other people would also be invited and that way CWC got to choose the best of what was submitted. Bear in mind that someone invited might not submit anything, it makes sense to invite a few more than one.
I was given a deadline and a synopsis of the story so far. I read the synopsis and then thought about what I could write. The genre was Sci-Fi, not something I had written about before but it was an opportunity I wanted to make the most of. I couldn’t really think of anything I could write that would add to the story and leave an opening for the next author(s) to continue with. My mind was a blank.
An idea formed in the middle of the night (I don’t sleep very much so I am up all hours) and I picked at it like a kid with a scab. I definitely need to work on my metaphors! Anyway, I powered up my computer and just started writing. I didn’t stop to think, it just flowed out. I refer back to my original metaphor, however distasteful it may be.
I submitted my work and a while later I received an email telling me that my chapter had been selected for the book. Awesome!
I’m not an egotist but I cannot remember the last time my ego felt so huge! Being told that my writing was good enough for a novel was as good as being told I was the world’s best lover. Ok, maybe not that good but pretty damn close!
So, writing a few thousand words seems to work for me but what about a novel; at least 80,000 words that have to make complete sentences, sensible paragraphs and a complete story. Not a chance in hell!
It’s not that I haven’t tried. The closest I got was a story I had started writing for my mum. It’s at about 50,000 words but incomplete and I have no reason to finish it. More importantly, no inclination to finish it because my mum will never read it. Ok, enough of depressing, move on.
I’ve tried to write a few things since that first attempt but I flounder after a short while. I have a story. I can write words. What’s my problem? The problem is creativity and being too self critical. I’m my own worst critic. I’m also arrogant, conceited and vain but that’s another story.
I know my limitations and being creative appears to be one of them. I am a voracious reader, especially of fantasy novels (blame my school, they made me read ‘The Hobbit’ as part of my ‘O’ level English Literature!) but they have to be ‘good’ fantasy novels and not rehashed rubbish. I’m very selective. That said, I read a wide variety of books just to keep my brain amused but I am partial to ‘make-believe’.
The thing is, I can be reading a book and find errors or I think of a way an author could have made a sentence/paragraph better. Clearly this is my own opinion and how I believe it could be better but that doesn’t mean I would be right. The fact that I do this implies that there is dormant creativity hidden within me. Otherwise, I would go with the flow, wouldn’t I?
So, I needed another challenge. I submitted a short story to CWC. The short story had to be compatible with their lasted novel, Wytch Born. The best story would be included at the end of the book as a stand-alone story. That was the prize I was aiming for.
Guess what? My story was selected to be included in the book!
Another massive ego boost! ‘World’s Best Lover’ style!
It appears that I’m ok at sprinting but not at long distance. That’s a pretty good metaphor but I didn’t create it; bummer. I’m also pretty sure that it wasn’t intended as a writing metaphor!
I lack the flair that many of the good authors have of creating a fiction that draws you in and refuses to let you go. The way they can describe scenes in such detail that you envisage it like a photograph you took. The way the narrative flows, so realistic that it can make you laugh, weep or scream in anger. The way they manage to make a long story seem too short and you just want more. These are the things I cannot seem to do, or at least, haven’t been able to do them yet.
I have, therefore, decided to take some drastic action. I will soon be starting a degree in English Literature and Creative Writing. I never would have believed that I would try a degree in English Literature as I didn’t really enjoy it when I was at school. The thought of more Shakespeare or Dickens is enough to make me take more morphine than I already do! The reality is much worse! I have to read books on poetry and animals. And animal poetry!! It really is that dire!
I am hoping that completing the degree will open the floodgates and allow my creativeness to come flooding out. Or maybe it won’t and I’ll end up having another useless degree. Either way, it’s going to be something new and that’s almost as good as a new adventure – but with books (good). And animal poetry (not good)!
I may never be a world class author. I may never be an author at all! I have immense respect for all the people who write novels, be they best-sellers or not. At least they tried their best and completed their books. To be honest, everyone that writes for the enjoyment or benefit of others gets my respect. Throwing words together is easy; I know tons of words! Making something worth reading is something else and having people want to read your work has to be rarer still.