Friday, 15 June 2007

Coming out of the (stationery) closet

I am a writer. Officially, I have been for about 2 years, although my job title inserts a handy 'Medical' in front of writer, to make sure that (during office hours at least) I concentrate on non-fiction. Apparently if you add a little fictitious sparkle when you're writing up a clinical trial they call it 'falsifying evidence' and it's terribly unpopular. How dull! Anyway, I got over this revelation by realising that they don't mind if I let the more creative aspects of my writing out to play after work (or at least not in something that's due for presentation at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual congress), so I picked up the habit of scribbling fervently in my many notebooks, and it felt good. I've always had an inner monologue whispering to me 'If this was a book, then this would happen, and she would say that, or they would do this...', and now I've started letting it out on a regular basis, I've found that I have to distract myself when I'm not in a position to write things down to stop thinking of things that I'll just forget before I get to a pen.

Writing is something that I've always found comes easily. I did actually write a novel when I was 12 (terribly Enid Blyton-esque), and my little brothers loved it. Well, they were in it. Since then things like exams and deadlines have got in the way of finishing anything, but things are different now. I have invested in a shiny new laptop, joined the Novel Racers, and even told a couple of my friends what I'm up to. I think that was the hardest thing for me to do. Writer's block (touch wood) has only ever affected me when faced with a blank piece of paper, and just getting something down sorts that fairly soon. But acknowledging that I want to write fiction feels exceedingly scary. Why is this? It's an ambition, everybody has them. Why are creative ambitions so much harder to admit to than more concrete ones? Everyone I've told so far has been supportive and interested, and I have no reason to believe that any of my other friends will laugh in my face and tell me not to be ridiculous.


Kevin said...

KeVin Killiany here. Followed you over from Novel Racers.

Good for you for coming out of the closet as a writer. Telling folks makes you accountable. Of course, most people do not realize how long the writing-selling-publishing cycle is. They'll expect your book to be out the week after you finish it Which is why being part of a group like Novel Racers can help. There at least you're talking to people who understand what you mean by writing.

Speaking of which, there is no such thing as writer's block. There can be project block wherein you have difficulty with a particular scene or story -- that's just an indicator your subconscious needs to deal with it a bit longer. A trick which works for me is write something related but not the same. If, for example, my novel has one or more fairly self-contained subplots (and all of my stories over about 10k do) and I hit a block on the main plot, I write a scene for one of the subplots. Since it is not directly linear with the scene that has me stumped, skipping the stumping scene is not a problem. Once my pump is primed by a few thousand words of subplot, I can usually tackle the main plot with fresh eyes.

Kevin said...

Meant to add my Live Journal address.
It only looks random.

Jen said...

Ooh, I totally share your love of all things paper - strangely, though, I can only use really boring ordinary lined pads from WHSmith to make notes about writing.

Welcome to the Novel Racers by the way!

Stephen said...

Allow me to say, on behalf of all of your friends, that you have all the support you could want...I love reading your blog and (having had a sneak preview of the bigger project) can't wait to read more.

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