Monday, 27 February 2012

Guardian Masterclass

So, this weekend I've been teaching. I like teaching, I find it incredibly stimulating to sit in a room with a few like-minded writers, each sharing our experience, thoughts and stories about writing. Sometimes it's almost as if I'm not a 'teacher' as much as a facilitator - all I can really do is offer my advice and talk about things that work for me, or that I've seen work for other people, and in this way help people to look at the options they have and perhaps inspire them to go home and try something new, or at least a little differently. The fact remains, and I truly believe this, that while I can offer pointers, or advice, the ONLY way to learn to write is to sit at the desk with a pen or your keyboard and WRITE, so if this weekend has at least inspired the students to go home and really get stuck into their projects then I consider that a good outcome.

Helen Dunmore was my other tutor on this course, and she led a fascinating discussion about ambiguity in narration, though of course we also touched on lots of other topics, including the autobiographical elements that can creep into our work, and how we must not define ourselves too strictly as a certain 'type' of writer. Her new book, written for Hammer, is called The Greatcoat and is an example. It's a ghost story, something which Helen told us she didn't necessarily think she'd ever write, and she also found herself producing a quite detailed outline early on in the writing of it, which is something she doesn't normally do. In this way the book was a departure for her in terms of both subject/form and process, and we could all tell from the way she spoke about it that she'd thoroughly enjoyed that aspect of writing the book. It does us all good to try things new occasionally I think, and she also extolled the virtues of what she called 'playing' occasionally. She recommended we all spend half a regular half hour writing just for the sake of writing, with no view to turning what we write into anything necessarily. Creative writing exercises, can be good for this, or just 'free writing' whatever comes to mind. It all oils the machine and can be lots of fun, plus it's enormously freeing to know that no one will ever see what we write and we can do just what we like.

So, I've created a file on my computer called 'Play', and I'm going to start right now...

1 comment:

Amanda said...

I just reviewed Before I Go To Sleep on my blog. I work at a book store and all of my coworkers loved it. So we make sure we tell all of our customers about it and have displayed it on our staff picks. I'd love to know what you think about my review: http://amanda-bookshelf.blogspot.com/