Loch Awe in spring - Photo courtesy of Neil Donald Photography






Saturday, 8 June 2013

THE LONELY WRITER IN HER GARRET......OR NOT?

Writing is, for the most part and for most writers, a solitary life. There are, of course, those who share offices with partners/friends but I'd bet my last ink cartridge that they are alone in their heads all the same. If we exchange ideas with someone else then it is not our sole work, in my humble opinion...:) But we do have to put in the lonesome hours. I often forget to eat when I'm deeply into something. Mugs of coffee go cold. It's only when I start to feel very uncomfortable that I realise I need the loo. All self-inflicted lonesomeness. I'm sure there are many of us who stop work-in-progress for a few minutes (hours??) to look at Facebook or Twitter or trawl the internet for interesting snippets of this or that. But it's not the same as seeing someone, is it? We don't hear things like, 'Oh, I do like that colour on you' or 'Mmmm, you smell nice, what's the perfume?' So, as good as Facebook and Twitter and the like are for social networking we do, I think, need the physical. I go for a walk most days - for at least half an hour, up hill and down dale, and at a fair lick. Often, a sticky plot patch will unstick while I'm catching my breath after a steep climb. Or I'll meet someone I know and pass the time of day. And get those above-mentioned compliments which are so good for the soul, are they not? Writing has, quite literally, opened up my world. I have been on two writers' workshop holidays. One in Italy and the other in Corfu. In Italy. June Tate, Angela Arney, and Kathryn Haig were the tutors and I learned such a lot from the experience - not least that I love insalata tricolore! On that course I met a young American girl (same age as my daughter)called April who has remained a dear friend, even though she has now moved to Australia with her husband. And here she is in her local newsagent in Perth, excited to find one of my stories in Woman's Weekly. I have used the little hilltop, walled, town we stayed in - Sarteano - in more than a few short stories, so well worth the journey. In Corfu I met someone whose face fellow novelpointsofview members will recognise. June Tate and Angela Arney were again the tutors, and Katie Fforde joined them this time, following Kathryn's untimely death. There was a young local girl on this course - she'd been a ballerina (and yes, she was called Angelina!)in Russia until injury forced her retirement - whose English was excellent. I'm sure I'll never forget the beautifully scenic if terrifyingly hairy ride when she took three of us to the north of the island for dinner with her family. Being a member of the Romantic Novelists' Association drags me away from my swivel chair and my desk piled high with notes and pots of paperclips and pens. I've attended two conferences but the old cloth ears problem means I don't benefit from it as much as I could. I've become good friends with many I've met at the conferences and also the RNA events held in London. And here I am with Margaret James and Jane Bidder (aka Sophie King and Janey Fraser) when we did a presentation at Exeter Library. So, we do have to keep a balance, I think. But it's not all jollies.....the sun is shining, I have work to do, so I'm going to have to close the curtains and revert to that lonely writer in her garret.....for a little while:)

8 comments:

  1. Interesting post, Linda. The writing courses in Italy and Corfu sound great. I've often wodnered about such course when i see them advertised and I'd love to hear more about your experience of them.
    As for writers being permanently alone in a garret, I don't think we'd have nearly as much to write about. I think we need contact with other people and to see other places to round us out as writers - though when we are in the thick of writing, it's true, we are alone.

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  2. Thanks, Mary....there's an excellent course at Chez Castillon....Sue Moorcroft is tutoring at the next one. That's said to be excellent - content of the course, the place, the food, the comradeship. I know some who go just to hole up and write and meet with the others for meals etc...:)

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  3. It's a difficult balance, isn't it, betwen time alone and time outside? Too much of either and i find I can't write - too much alone I don't have enough to write about (as Mary suggests) and too much time with others (wonderful as socialising with other writers and non-writers is!) I don't have the time or energy left for writing.

    A local writer Mary and I both know recently suggested a writers' day away, to both write and socialise. It's an interesting idea, as long as we get the balance right!

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  4. Good idea, Gill.....rent somewhere and hole up to write and chat and socialize....not necessarily in that order but it is bound to bring ideas to the party...:)

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  5. Well, as you know, I have been on courses! And remember that Corfu course with great affection. I have found them both useful and stimulating, and have made many friends, some of whom I am still in touch with. Sometimes a course can set you alight - it's not necessarily the content or the teaching, it's just being there and having the chance to immerse yourself in you craft.

    Last year I was at Chez Castillon, learning at the feet of Veronica Henry. It was enormous fun and she was a great teacher. As for just getting away to write, nowhere beats Cliff Cottage (for which heartiest thanks, Elizabeth).

    It IS about balance. Meeting and talking is a vital stimulus, having time and space to write is a real treat.

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  6. Ah yes, Cliff Cottage....it is on my wish list....:)

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  7. Ooh, Linda...you have me worried. If exchanging ideas means it's not our siole work I've never written anything myself!

    I rely very strongly on friends for my writing. Not just writer friends, either - non-writers are just as helpful, sometimes more so.

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  8. We all work differently....I don't share anything until it's in print...just how I am, and how I feel about MY work...:)But I think, all that said, that as writers we can't feel to glean ideas from wherever....:)

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