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Friday, 18 October 2013

Writing About Writing

 I suppose it goes without saying that I am a writer—after all, I’m writing this incredibly late post, aren’t I? I’ve even mentioned my love of writing fiction in a few posts, like “Excuses, Love and an Essay onDreams” and last week’s “Keeping a Diary”, but it’s not something I tend to bring up a lot as until fairly recently I didn’t see myself as a “real writer.”

Over the past while I’ve been a little bit brave and showed bits and pieces of my work to Bambi, Phoenix, Wolf and Crow, as well as another friend I still have to give a nickname. Bambi’s the one I’d show almost anything because I know she understands and she’d never judge me. Not that any of the others would either—it’s just difficult for me, like showing people a very private part of myself (I’ll do the jokes, thank you). I’ve never showed anyone the work I’m proudest of because it all seems to personal somehow. I’m going off on a bit of a philosophical tangent here: If a story is never heard, is it still a story? I don’t know. I do know that there’s a time when every story is ready, though, and some take a little longer than others. There are some characters I feel more protective over, some I’m still unsure of and some I’m determined to describe just right in case they get mad and fly at me with a pickaxe.

I’m trying to become a bit more confident with my writing though. There was a time when I would literally cover up anything I was writing if someone came into the room. It’s not that I was ashamed exactly. It’s not like I was doing anything wrong. It was a bit more like, “this is my private world, and you can’t come in until I’ve made it presentable.” I can be a fairly private person sometimes, so I suppose I like to have things I keep to myself. Then I met Bambi who i bet felt sort of the same, started this blog, and was told by people directly and indirectly that there is no shame at all in calling yourself a writer. So I did. I started showing people my work, but I was still a little afraid of their feedback.

Feedback can be a pretty scary thing, because everyone has different views and opinions. When I was much younger, someone saw some of my work and seemed to like it, but the next week they told me about another girl: “Her writing is way better than anything you could ever come up with.”

I don’t know why I let this affect me so much, but I did. I didn’t write again for such a long time, but one day I opened up an old computer file, started reading over something, and remembered how much joy in my life comes from writing my little, often meaningless, stories. I’d been so silly to let a throwaway remark get in the way of that happiness! It made me realise that honestly, I’ll always be a writer. It doesn’t matter what job I do or how often I get to write (damn you leaving cert!), I can’t imagine my life without making up stories. I bet everyone does it sometimes. I can’t imagine not being able to imagine.

Nowadays, I welcome feedback. Even the bad stuff... especially the bad stuff! At first of course I’ll look at it and think for perhaps a whole five minutes: “Alright, well, I might as well chuck it in. This story is stupid.” But then I look at the feedback and glean every little scrap I can from it: because as I said, I do love my characters so dearly. They’re always there for me and I often give them a rough time... so I owe it to them to tell their story properly and beautifully.


For the next few weeks, I’ll finally get round to some of those studying posts I promised way back when, but I’m also going to be writing a lot about writing. I’m fortunate enough to know a few fellow writers, so with their help I’d like to explore different genres and styles, writing methods, and the reasons people write. I might even ask them to tell their own story.

If you’re a writer, even if you don’t think you’re a “real” one, why don’t you get in touch? 

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