I’ve called this blog Head to Head, Heart to Heart because it kind of encapsulates what I get out of creative writing, and what is probably amongst the many motivations for many writers. That conveying of ideas and observations that come from the mind which is forever busy, but also the feelings about life, relationships and what it means to be human.
I came to writing later in life, but I doubt I’d have had the life experience or confidence to do it earlier. I’m so glad I discovered a passion for it because it has enriched my life in many ways, though as we know it’s not as easy road. You put your heart into it, just like any other form of art, and you need to share it with at least one other person, that ideal reader, yet you are subject to self doubt, criticism and rejection along the way. And we all have to learn to deal with these things otherwise we’ll flounder in it all.
I chose the tagline of writing and life, the ebb and the flow to describe the creative energy highs when the waves are rolling in, ideas, expression and feeling splashing madly in all directions against the rocks, ideas bouncing off each other, but also the inevitable stagnant low energy periods when for whatever reason the tide has gone out, leaving us feeling lacking with our faults exposed. But as I have learnt myself in midlife, just living is like this too, and we need to embrace it all, go with the flow as the Taoists say – to get the most out of the highs we have to learn from the lows, be comfortable with them to provide a kind of grounding. And success or failure (whatever these are deemed to be), we have to go on with out creative life, because it is simply who we are and what we do.
And we can write to:
Use our sensitivity – to channel it into something constructive. I’ve been told for as long as I can remember that I’m too sensitive, too sensitive to people, to things people say, to my own feelings, to atmospheres. Well, hurrah, now it comes in useful at last, and I respect it instead of wishing I was ‘harder’. Now that’s what I call a result.
Use our in depth thinking – I’ve also been told for many years that I think too much. All that analysing of myself and others with resultant existential angst and doldrums. Trying to decide where I fit in. All that experience of thinking now has a channel where it can be constructively channelled while giving myself a break. Another excellent result.
To express what it is to be human – sounds a bit grand, I know. But when I was doing my degree I had to read nineteenth century classic novels where realism first featured, focusing on the inner life of characters in a very real and frequently hard world. My eyes were opened, probably because by this time I had lived a bit, and I became in awe of these writers who could express feelings, thoughts and reactions I’d had myself, yet so hard to articulate and here they were doing it and sharing it. And what a gift it is. That was the hook for me that lead to me wanting to try to do the same.
To validate the experiences of others – I was always asking is it normal to feel this, think that, far too much self questioning during my life, which with the benefit of hindsight I suspect many creative people share. So, as we can all acknowledge that writers put to use their own life experiences, through our fictional characters we can express and address many life issues. We can help to validate the experiences of others. For example the current book I’m working on is dealing with mid-life transition, for which there are many clichéd ideas. And as I know about this topic, I want to debunk the clichés and explore what it is really about.
Invest yourself in a project – this is a biggie for me. After my studies I knew I wanted to carry on learning, researching, immersing myself in a long term project to keep myself stimulated, and keep my brain ticking over, to have it as part of my life in a regular sustained way but with a lot more creative freedom than passing courses to prescribed dictates. My painting gives me my relaxation, my writing gives me my stimulation. Both give me my focus and they dovetail nicely. Whether or not anyone will buy a book I’ve written or a painting I’ve done has to be totally secondary, a hard thing to learn (and I’m still learning) but well worth it if it keeps you creating – another take on art for art’s sake.
Indulge the imagination – and create these other places to go, like you do when you read a book, to enjoy the escape, to mull over with your characters their current situation when they’ve become so real to you that you mention them as if they exist. That’s certainly how I feel about Lucy and Rhea in On Turtle Beach.
Help you get to sleep at night – if you don’t just put your head on the pillow and drift off, just think – What is that difficult plot problem you have to solve? What is your character going through at the moment? They’re frozen there in a movie still, just waiting for you to direct them. How are they going to move forward? What do they really want? And if you are stumped for answers you’ll probably be soon enfolded in the arms of sleep (I must notebook that phrase). And of course if you do get any answers jot them down in a notebook by the side of the bed, then let go.
There are many other reasons to write and we could all write a different list – thank goodness we can, because this is what art and writing are all about, the passions of the individual, where we want to pour out something we can’t exactly explain but know we need to do because life would be paltry without it.
So why do you write?
There we go, I’ve written my first blog, enjoyed it and find I’ve got plenty to say…I’ll talk about how I came to write a novel next time.