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Sunday, 1 November 2015

writing is only a substitute for living

Writing is only a substitute for living - so says Florence Nightingale. I thought Florence was busy being a nurse but perhaps like a lot of people she had an unfinished novel in her bottom drawer and therefor knows what she's talking about.

Perhaps she is right. As a writer I think you should write every day - even if it's just thoughts or a shopping list and maybe one is so busy writing you're not getting out there nursing or doing other 'living' things. And also as a writer you must always read as well. As you can see from the picture below I am doing a lot of reading.

Actually this is Beezle and me doing that book signing in Waterstones - not my own personal library. It was a lot of fun - particularly when other dogs came into the shop. A friend of mine thought I'd do better if I changed the title of the Dog Ray to Fifty Shades of Ray. I think he made a good point.

One of Henry Miller's tips to writers is to keep human. See people, go places, drink if you feel like it. I think this sounds good. As Beezle and Ray Bradbury would say " Writing is not a serious business. It's a joy and a celebration. You should have fun with it."

 Here are the dogs having fun down the yurt. I'm there too - busy writing in a corner. Oh no - a yurt doesn't have corners. Oh well - writing in the round.

Suddenly, I looked up what other famous people (by other I mean Florence not me) say about writing. Elmore Leonard says never start a book with the weather. Uh oh! The opening line to The Boy with the Tiger's Heart  is
"The snow falls heavily that night and in the morning lies in deep drifts ..........."

Still at least I didn't write "It was a dark and stormy night."

He also said never use the words "suddenly" or "all hell broke loose."

Someone else said if you'd don't know what to write next and the story is on the verge of being boring bring in a man with a gun.

Susan Sontag suggests that you know everything about adjectives and punctuation and make a list of words to thicken your active vocabulary. I like this. I've always thought if I was ever asked onto Desert Island discs the book I would take would be a dictionary. It would work like this:
To have puny, not just little, hoax not just trick, mortifying not just embarrassing, bogus not just fake. I could make a story out of puny,hoax,mortifying,bogus. They are a story.

Here is Pocket (quarter Bengal). Dreaming, he says, is the only real substitute to living.

I was suddenly reading Sylvia Plath the other day(I'm suddenly name dropping here) and she said that her desire to write came from a tendency towards introversion, begun when she was in the fairy tale world of Winnie the Pooh and Mary Poppins. I can relate to that. As a writer, I've often thought of myself as a cross between Cormack Mc Carthy and Enid Blyton.

Oh look - a man with a gun has just arrived at the door.