Notes on Writing
Posted by marandina on Mon, 23 Jan 2023
Notes on writing
We all write for different reasons. I returned to ABCTales in October 2020 after a hiatus of fourteen years. In my case, it was an attempt to process two recent deaths of people close to me. That first story came and went. I felt a bit better for it, self-disclosure not being my strong suit. Then things kinda went from there and as a senior member on here remarked one day, I had the “bug” of posting. 2022 was kind to me. A couple of speculative submissions to lit mags resulted in my work being published. Beginner’s luck, probably. Either way, the acceptance emails were a real buzz.
The irony’s not lost on me that the writer in the family is actually my son. He’s the one with the first class degree in creative writing. He is genuinely talented and a far better author than I. At the moment, he chooses to spurn his gift. He prefers to spend his time on other things including media and enjoys making films on YouTube. He talks about his portfolio of work for his degree as “pretentious nonsense”. Maybe he has imposter syndrome, something we probably all suffer from at times.
So what have I learned over the last couple of years? Well, loads. Probably the biggest revelation is poetry. Before returning, I couldn’t write a decent poem to save my life (some say I still can’t). If you look back at my early stuff, you will see that in one instance I even use the word “doth” like I’m fucking Shakespeare or something. Having had the chance to learn from other poets, I can probably just about hold my own these days. The real kicker is the way poetry can feed into prose. If you can start to articulate poetic expression then this can enhance a story no end. It turns out that poetry and prose are interchangeable as well as being creatively independent of each other if that’s what you want.
A key learn for me is writing “tightly”. This is harder than it sounds. It’s too easy to stray into tangents. Not staying on purpose can lessen the impact of a piece. Within this you have the age-old debate of word count v quality. Really, the latter is the trump card and getting distracted by quantity rather than quality can lead to a dead-end. I did this myself with a story I posted recently which I took down in the end to re-write. It had become bloated and lost its focus by constantly adding bits daily rather than keeping the core essence of what I wanted to say.
I suppose the final point to add is about finding a voice of your own. Again, easier said than done. In my case, my preference would be to write about fantasy/horror fiction but I find the lure of writing across other genres too much. It feels like by not finding a niche, you run the risk of not establishing a distinctive style and voice that’s unique to you. However, it may well be that this develops over time naturally anyway as it’s difficult to separate the person from the writing. You eventually become your own brand, if that makes sense.
As for 2023 and beyond, I still have the ambition to be a better writer. Within that, I want to make more submissions to lit mags etc., I have a draft chapbook of poetry gathering dust on my hard drive this last six months now so I may eventually send it off somewhere and maybe there’s a book in me. Who knows?
It would be remiss of me in writing about writing not to finish by thanking everyone at this site for the support since coming back. I may well have stopped posting quite a while ago if it wasn’t for the interest shown by members, editors and the like. Encouragement and feedback are worth their weight in gold and hard to come by. So thank you. I guess I will keep reading, keep writing and keep learning. We really never do stop learning. Ever.