Monday, 21 May 2012


It’s a difficult exercise for me to work out how I can translate the issues I want to write about into action. How can I put down in writing through plot and/or character a particular subject without making it seem like I have made a very flat two dimensional person exist with the sole purpose of being a walking advertising slogan for that subject?  I’ll give you an example. My first short story “The Silent Spaces” was constructed with a few different issues in mind. I won’t talk about all of them, and I won’t explain why I wanted to write about them, let’s just say I did (and of course talking about this in no way gives anything away about the character or plot of that story so if you happened to have read it then don’t think this explains anything, it doesn’t I promise! They’re just factors to think about that led me in that direction, make of their value what you will…) So, a few of the issues I wanted to explore may or may not be known to you, anxiety and panic disorders, derealisation, depersonalization, demophobia, ochlophobia, specific social phobias and social anxieties, glossophobia and throw in any other general fear disorder you want. You may by chance know people who are at one end of the scale, who hate leaving the house, are on multiple prescriptions and you don’t feel like being around when they lose their temper…or it may be you; you may be someone who gets ever so slightly nervous when they have to make a presentation at work but no more than that. There is nothing unusual about any of that, there are countless conditions and we don’t have a lifetime here to go into them all. What is, I think, going to be a lifetime lesson however, is how to make conditions believable and real in a particular situation…how to introduce it. Do I want to talk about for an example a man who happens to have a fear of confined spaces by having him accidentally locked up in a contortionists box, therefore I need to invent a character who is a contortionist, and so perhaps I need to set my story in a circus, therefore maybe I should set it in Ancient Rome, and…and…and…and before I know it I’m wondering what the bloody hell happened to the idea I had in the first place! That’s where skill and confidence comes in, not saying I have either, but it’s what as someone who likes to write, hopes to acquire the more they produce. So when an idea for a short story comes to mind, I used to panic as I really wanted to get stuck into it but I spent so much time wondering how I was going to construct a story in order to explore this one particular idea that I never got anywhere. I’ve got lots of other blogs planned where I’ll be talking about my views on being able to build up a story or how to create a character so I’ll digress to other areas soon enough but this seems a good point to remind everybody that I am a novice! I’m by no means writing a tutorial here, or giving a lecture, I’m simply giving you my opinions on my writing as I go along. So…back to conditions, it is an obvious thing to say but there is one condition that seems to have been involved in a fair share of subjects, since erm, language flourished…heartbreak. This is where it is interesting to compare and ask yourself why is it so hard to write about something (or write something original and meaningful) once you have thought about it. You won’t have read many books, watched many films and so on that have not included at least one character or situation that involves the painful subject of love being lost, destroyed, ruined, stolen, etc. it is something we all experience and all have our own take on, it is something so specific to everyone that goes through it that it feels like only we have genuinely felt this level of emotion, other people don’t understand, other people don’t know what it’s like and a plethora of other defensive mantras physcotherapists hear on a hourly basis. That’s what makes it such a common theme, it is a universal suffering, we can all relate to it; perversely that is perhaps why other darker themes are so popular too, murder, crime, revenge, etc. because although we don’t all necessarily go through it, we may all think about it! I hope I don’t sound unhinged when I say that I imagine a lot of people have thought about doing someone in…although of course knowing they never would in a million lifetimes. However because it is enjoyable to be an innocent voyeuristic participant to this sort of thing it becomes a theme we look for. I’m not particularly interested in those types of thing, I enjoy good thrillers and murder-mysteries like everyone else but when it comes to writing I have other things I want to explore. So I have a challenge. How do I write about emotional issues that I haven’t actually been through? How do I write about a specific social phobia if I don’t have it? However, that’s the fun and the enjoyment and the thrill of writing, I can be whatever the hell I want to be! I don’t want to make stuff up that is totally unscientific and nonsense therefore research is hugely important (another blog on that coming up), but you don’t have to be a murderer to write about murder, you don’t have to be a bank robber, secret agent, prison escapee, and so on to write about those things…so yes, to be truthful and honest is fundamental, but in the sense of conveying your feelings towards those subjects.  Does it help to have suffered a terrible break up in order to write convincingly about break ups…I’m not sure… my instinct is to say yes, but then, would I say the same about murder…no…so then I have to conclude that if you want to write, then write! Write about anything and everything you want to; if you can make it feel genuine, engrossing, captivating, believable then that is the skill of a good writer.
                  Anyway, my hour is up. To conclude, some of my stories I hope will be different to what you may expect, there are a lot of subjects that I want to cover, some may be a bit ‘weird’, some may be a bit ‘unusual’ but it all depends on your experience and objectivity, they may not warrant your attention at all…some stories will be more ‘normal’ for sure, some will be the sort of drama you have access to everywhere, however my hope is, the better I get, the more I practice, the longer I keep at it (give me five years as a minimum people come on) then the more I will be able to write in a way that conveys something as common as love and heartbreak and as different as demophobia with similar conviction…in a way that tells an interesting story that people will enjoy and be challenged by.


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