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Thursday, 4 October 2012

Erin McKechnie finds inspiration from the professionals.

It’s my turn to do the blog, but I am devoid of ideas let alone inspiration. Writing a blog is much harder than a novel I have decided. I turned for help to some of the masters. These authors, far better writers than I, have made the following remarks on why or how they write.
Anais Nin gives exquisite advice on why emotional excess is essential to writing and creativity:

               ‘...You must not fear, hold back, count or be a miser with your thoughts and feelings. Emotion comes from an overflow, so you have to learn to intake, to imbibe, to nourish yourself and not be afraid of fullness. The fullness is like a tidal wave which then carries you, sweeps you into experience and into writing. Permit yourself to flow and overflow, allow for the rise in temperature, all the expansions and intensifications. Something is always born of excess: great art was born of great terrors, great loneliness, great inhibitions, instabilities, and it always balances them.'
        ‘...Don’t feel that each time you write a story you give away one of your dreams and you are poorer for it. You have not thought how this dream is planted in others, others begin to live it too, it is shared, it is the beginning of friendship and love.’
                ‘...You move in a world of mysteries. It must be ruled by faith.’
George Orwell wrote on the motive for writing:
                ‘All writers are vain, selfish and lazy, and at the very bottom of their motives there lies a mystery. Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand. For all one knows that demon is simply the same instinct that makes a baby squall for attention. And yet it is also true that one can write nothing readable unless one constantly struggles to efface one’s own personality. Good prose is like a window pane.  I cannot say with certainty which of my motives are the strongest, but I know which of them deserve to be followed.  And looking back through my work I see that it is invariably where I lacked a political purpose that I wrote lifeless books and was betrayed into purple passages, sentences without meaning, decorative adjectives and humbug generally.’
It interested me that both writers comment in all seriousness on the mysteriousness of the writer’s world. There wouldn’t be many of us who don’t know the excitement when we sit down to write – of wondering what is going to trip from the ends of our fingers. But George Orwell seemed a little too serious for me.  I prefer the attitude of Ray Bradbury:
                ‘Writing is not a serious business. It’s a joy and a celebration. You should be having fun with it. Ignore the authors who say "Oh my God, what word? Oh, Jesus Christ... ," you know? No, to hell with that. It’s not work. If it’s work, stop and do something else. ‘
How do you feel about the writing process? Is it a dark unstoppable force, an urge to create art, or a desire to tell a story? Do you write for yourself or an audience? Let us know how you feel.



  1. What great points of view from those writers. All of which, surely, I have experienced to some degree or other. Ray Bradbury's exhortation to have fun and enjoy rings a bell. Creating the work is exciting and fun. It's the editing and editing and editing that drives me mad; bores me silly; tests my limits of perseverence. Thanks Erin, for making me think.

  2. I write for me - but I also write aware that I am writing for people like me - so therefore an audience.
    I believe we all have audiences out there, people who share our interests, the same sorts of stories we do, and could become friends if we knew them better.
    Somedays, yes I struggle to find a word and it bothers me. Somedays I find my characters get stuck in a place and I need a find a convincing leap to move them to the next page. Somedays writing is a pain in the neck. Those are the days when you need to go for walk, weed the garden, read someone else's words and stop struggling with it all.
    Then there are the days when the fingers can't stop. The keyboard tap tap taps all the way to then end of chapter and beyond. Then you feel really good about yourself, your story and life in this wonderful country.