Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Writer's Cramp

Moss on a dry stone wall in North Yorkshire
I love writing, but I'm hopeless at it and have little motivation most of the time. I guess life gets in the way. I've often wondered what makes a good writer; is it the 'can't put it down' factor, is it the riveting argument, the quaint prose, the subject matter, the satisfying beginning, middle and end?

I also suppose it's what you write too. Novels are hard for me, firstly because time is not easy to come by to sit down for a couple of hours a day and get my teeth into one. I read books at school age of course, Captain WE Johns Biggles books mostly, for pleasure and I read books for professional reasons, for education and advancement, but apart from the odd autobiography of my favourite stars, there it stopped for many years. 

I was working away from home in 1984 for two weeks and I was bored to tears and I asked a colleague in desperation if he had anything to read and he loaned me a Stephen King novel 'Christine.' Not only had I never heard of Stephen King, but a horror/thriller too? 

I was hooked, I couldn't put it down, a scrap car restoring itself and its odometer going backwards and taking revenge on people? What a load of rubbish, but it was in fact an extraordinary read full of emotion and atmosphere and I went on from there. 

Do novels inspire me to write, no not really, but along with writing press releases for a few years, penning strategic level reports at work now, I like to make my writing clear and easy to understand without being patronising. I used to tell colleagues that you should write to the audience or recipient as if they were an intelligent 14 year old and leave no ambiguities and you should be okay. It seemed to work.

Writing a blog is no less difficult and yet it caters for a wide audience, many of whom just click in randomly and it has to be interesting, varied and often writ. That is my downfall, my life is sufficiently unexciting that I can only find things to write about every now and then when something happens or I do something different or exciting.

My writing in my personal life is on esoteric subjects relating to my interests in spirituality and psychic study, so my development group get papers from me regularly on a wide variety of subject matter. This is itself difficult to write because it's researched based. How much do I put it, more importantly, what do I leave out? I can't write a novel, just a couple of pages maximum on each subject to whet the appetite, to encourage further research on the part of the reader. I think this is one of the keys. How do I make this sufficiently interesting to inspire further reading?

A lonely barge at low tide rests in the River Hull

The internet is an interesting subject in itself, but how much of this influences how we write? I can recall the days when the internet gurus said that every novel would only be read on the screen via the internet, the book is dead, long live the book. The truth is that writing for the book and magazine is as popular as ever and my local bookshop is always packed full of people browsing through the tens of thousands of book available on every conceivable subject. Much of what is written on the internet is interesting but some of it badly put and after a minute reading, it's easy just to switch to another site, or in some cases, better to go and make a cuppa.

There is a novel in everyone, but perhaps wisely, author, the late Christopher Hitchens also said, “Everybody does have a book in them, but in most cases that's where it should stay.”

So I am not minded to write a book - just yet. I do have an ambition to write a book, but it's not fiction, it's about life, my life and its journey. Who is it for? Anyone, no-one. So what is the point - it's a lot of effort for a cathartic exercise, but there will be men out there and perhaps a few women who might relate to a life story of an ordinary person who has faced some difficulties, still faces difficulties but where the light at the end of the tunnel has been finally spotted.

So I follow a couple of blogs of writers, Diane Parkin and Paula RC Readman, not necessarily just because they are writers, more for their personality and interesting blogs, but writing something substantial does hold that fascination and who knows - one day.

I hope you are thinking about keeping warm as the autumnal weather starts to take hold.

Chat soon



  1. Gosh, now you've done it. Anne is doing a book sort out - mainly Patricia Cornwall and James Patterson.

    She's now under orders to ensure my aged copy of Biggles and Cruise of Condor (W.E. Johns, 1933) doesn't end up at a charity shop.

    You've said to me that I should write a book, if only for me. I agree. The popularity of genealogy demands it. The concept isn't new.

    I've done minimal restorations on Family Bibles dating back a couple of hundreds of years that have beautiful, cursive, handwritten annotations and family histories glued in (Flour and water).

    Families would club together to buy them, or get them 'on tic' because the ties between family members and church was very important to them.

    Y'right sir. I's worth jotting down for the future. Off to practice my cursive.

  2. Hi Wheelie
    Good luck with it, go for it and dont be put off by any gaps or memory lapses which we all have - go for it and stick with it. Keep us all in touch with what you do!

  3. I would guess it has been a bit bleak down there by the Humber Estuary these last few days RLS. It has been pretty cold up here.
    I had visions of writing a novel when I was younger but have got over it now!

  4. Hi Weaver
    The wind has made it a little uncomfortable, jumper weather shall we say, just not cold enough to wear a coat during the day mostly, but showers are frequent, autumn is well and truly here, berries ripening, leaves turning, chillier damp dewy nights.