2 thoughts on “Putting The Fun Back Into Writing”

  1. This is a good essay – as someone who has seen their second novel rejected by a dozen agents and a fistful of publishers, I have more or less forgotten that the whole gig is supposed to be about having fun. A year on from finishing the novel, I have come to this conclusion: writing with the ogre of prospective publication over your shoulder isn’t a good idea. Let me clarify this: if you’re writing with the notion in the back of your mind that your work is going to be assessed by an agent and readers, its hipness quotient or lack of it chewed over and discussed, then you’re effectively paralysing yourself, creatively speaking. You are writing for others, not for yourself, and part of this is that you end up more or less impersonating an authorial voice that seems to promise success, rather than finding yourself. The whole wretched preoccupation success makes a writer (in my opinion) less willing to take risks, to be playful and perhaps discover something about themselves. An analogy would be the difference between doodling in the margins of a notebook and being faced with an expanse of blank white canvas. Often, your best drawing comes out when you’re not faced with performance anxiety, and when you can enjoy relaxed concentration: I believe writing is much the same.

  2. Thanks for your comment. This reminds me of a thought that I wanted to include in the above article. It’s a distinction between external and internal questions. External questions are those you put to the audience/agent/publisher, and come from a particular direction (taste, marketing, whatever). Internal questions are those you ask of the fiction itself; these questions are answers that address weaknesses in the art itself. I’m not sure if I’ve made that entirely clear.

    Here’s an example. At beginning my book Flashback, I’ve got an affair bewteen two women. If I asked the ‘reader over my shoulder’ whether or not this element should be included, I’d probably get an answer like ‘A typical thriller demographic won’t like it’ – these answers tend to drag the fiction towards the centre of the bell curve. But if I ask the same question of the fiction itself, the story’s answer is: ‘Of course you need. If Jem and Saskia aren’t in love, why would Jem go to the lengths she does to help Saskia’? In essence, it works for the story, and, reader demographics be damned, I know that it makes the fiction better. I think that asking these ‘external’ questions immolates your fiction, and asking ‘internal’ ones elevates it…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *