Thoughts on writing…

There’s an awful lot of advice and information and opinion out there on writing novels these days.  And then there’s all the writing and rewriting and recasting and rewriting and cutting and writing and rewriting that seems to be the norm once one has an agent and then once one has a publisher…

But…and I do realise this is entirely against everything we’re being told these days…but, I’m beginning to wonder if there hasn’t been some confusion somewhere about what a writer is. 

One thing I’m not is an entertainer.  (Obviously, I can only speak for myself.) 

I won’t do whatever somebody tells me to do just because they think it will draw some punters in.  That means no to reality shows; no to telling my life-story to anyone (it’s frankly pretty boring); no to stripping off in a panto; and no to writing the book someone else tells me to write because they believe that’s what the market currently demands. 

Because I don’t write to make money, well, at least not books.  I write, probably, compulsively.  Because I believe I have something to say.  Or perhaps it’s that the characters in my head who have something to say and they won’t shut up until I let them out onto the page.  (And even then, it’s iffy…)

Yes, I can tell a good story.  Yes, I probably can entertain my readers.  But I’m just as interested in my subtext, in my themes as I am in characters, dialogue, setting or action.  And I am interested, above all, in writing breath-catching beautiful prose–and for me, if that’s lacking, then I have nothing. 

Yes, I sort of have a synopsis…but no sooner do I think I’ve worked it out, than some new character wanders in and out goes what I think was going to happen and that’s when it all really gets interesting. 

And all of this is what makes a novel an organic thing–one which hangs together as a whole, un-split-up-able.  It’s not a conglomerate which can be broken up for body parts.  It’s all of one fabric, one seamless garment…

They’re remarkable things, novels.  And I don’t think we appreciate what it takes to write one nearly enough.  I don’t think we appreciate what it takes to be a writer either.  It’s not just another string to an entertainer’s bow.  It’s a craft, a skill, an art, a passion.  Great novels are loved and sweated and nurtured into being. 

At least, that’s what I think…


3 comments on “Thoughts on writing…

  1. I agree completely. Passion is what turns writing into an art.

    • O. Maltravers says:

      Passion, yes, I quite agree. Plus an enormous amount of skill. But above all, it’s about having a clear, distinctive, consistent voice and having something worthwhile to say.

      Bennetts, you have made my day with what you have said here. Please, please continue to ignore what the market-pleasers tell you about what to write. You do have something to say, and you say it eloquently and persuasively. (Anyone who hasn’t read Bennetts’s books, click on the “May 1812” and “Of Honest Fame” links in the right margin, and follow the links through to the books on Authonomy.)

  2. junebugger says:

    I agree with all that you’ve said. Writing is a form of art. Yet for so many it’s being seen as a product to make money off of. I actually had a few people tell me that my work would never get published because it wasn’t marketable as a Regency romance, unless I do some major rewrites. But I’ll try my luck. I’m not changing my characters and themes to please the crowd.

    I really enjoyed this post. It was very encouraging. And I know you’re not an entertainer, but still, your book is great fun to read. It’s compelling. I think it’s the fact that you’re not (like so many other writers) trying to entertain the reader that makes your story all the more interesting. Entertainers tend to produce cliched stories because they know it’ll sell. But the thing is, with these kind of books, you read it, have fun, but forget it the next day.

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