I cheered at Sophie’s statement, ‘Ultimately, a socially just society is one where men and women are equal in all things, with no one group holding privilege or entitlement over the other.’
I was deeply moved by Josephine Chia’s heartbreaking revelation that her mother, ”was married at seventeen and bore a child every other year till she gave birth to my last sibling, a boy, when she was forty. In all, she must have had sixteen pregnancies but infant mortality and the Japanese war, claimed her children and left her with us eight. It broke her heart when one son had to be given away to buy food.’ Just sit with that image for a moment.
Thank you ladies. You are a hard act to follow.
One of the things that links all my guests is passion, so today, I’m going to share my passion for writing.
I’m passionate about writing because I want to communicate with people. I want to tell stories; share experiences; spread information and articulate my view of the world. I want to reassure and encourage. Occasionally, I want to shed light upon something which has been cynically obscured, like consultation documents designed to inform, but written to confuse. I also want my words to connect so I need to reveal myself. That’s scary. I’m quite private and whilst I want to share ideas and opinions, doing so invites comment, good and bad. Writing fiction is on another level entirely. Inevitably, you expose part of yourself in your characters. If you considered other’s opinions before you wrote something unexpected, like an erotic novel or a gruesome whodunit, it could nuke your writing instantly. Therefore, when I realised my desire to write, I knew I had to be fearless. When you expose your writing for the first time it feels like you are jumping off a cliff; liberating, energising, exciting and utterly terrifying. It’s only then that the ‘writing stages,’ rush up to meet you.
- Stage one – no-one wants to read what you’ve written.
- Stage two – someone, (other than family), finally wants to read what you’ve written.
- Stage three – someone wants to publish what you’ve written.
- Stage four – someone wants to pay you for publishing something that you’ve written.
- Stage five – someone pays you to write something they want/you want to write
- Stage six – someone pays you enough to finally give up the day job.
I may never reach stage six, but even when writing is a thankless hard slog, I persist because if I didn’t write, I’d get anxious, fretful and argumentative. On the other hand, if I’m totally engaged in a project, like that which I’m working on now for Triality, I’m constantly engaged in an internal dialogue. It’s like the lights are on but no-one is in. I don’t envy my family.
I said earlier that one of the reasons why I write is to share my experience, so here are my ideas about writing.
- If you want to write, you have to physically write. Don’t wait until that mythical “right time to write.” lt may never come, so write when you’ve something to say and stop when you’ve said it.
- Read widely and learn from other authors. Don’t copy their style. You’ll find your own, but reading will expand your knowledge and open your eyes to the limitless possibilities of story-telling.
- Check out the free resources that are available on the internet, like Curtis Brown weekly writing workout. Listen to podcasts and watch YouTube videos. Learn from those who have reached stage six.
- Writing is not like an academic subject where the more you work the better the grade. It’s more like a garden. Ideas and stories need time to flourish and not all will survive.
- Follow your instincts. Explore. Listen. Watch. Imagine.
- Be honest and fearless. Don’t look over your shoulder to check your imaginary reader’s response.
- Don’t insert yourself, as a writer, into the story. View yourself as a car engine. No-one wants the engine to pop up mid-journey to tell you how clever it is. Stay invisible.
- Writing is a job. If you are serious about it, make space and time to hone your skills. Some days it’ll be hard but persistance and passion will drag you through.
- Use props, music and photos to help you get inside your character’s head. For instance, scour junkshops for significant trinkets or old photos.
- Read your work aloud. Sentences have a rhythm, ensure yours sounds good.
- Rewrite constantly.
- Everyone is creative.
I’m going to take my own advice now and just pass on this final thought. There are thousands of stories and millions of characters floating in the ether waiting for an alert writer to spot them. If you do, invite them in. Help bring order to their chaos and give them a sense of direction then leave them free to tell you their story. Their new home will be your subconscious. If you can tap into that, just hold on tight and start taking down their dictation. That’s enough woo-woo stuff for today.
Thanks for dropping by. I look forward to seeing you again on 31st July when my next guest, Jon Hardy, will share his passion and experience.
With love from Singapore.