Friday, 10 July 2015

The three stages of writing a blog

One of the problems when it comes to writing the Friday blog is that at the moment, for obvious reasons, we are doing very little - thus there is very little to report. To make matters worse this week the weather has been horrid down here (and, yes, they were enjoying wonderful sunshine and a heat wave further up country). Throughout my life I have needed a real connection with nature to get any creative juices I may have to start moving, albeit sluggishly, and I have missed any such input this week. Oh well: some you win and some you lose. This need is the theme for the pictures.

It may be something on a large scale . . .
. . . or something quite small.
That paragraph may read oddly to those of you who know that I often write the blog in one or other of the cafés we patronise. (Incidentally, as soon as I typed that last word I realised that it sounds dreadful. There is a muddle here between patronising in the sense of supporting and in the sense of being condescending to. Anyway, I meant the word as definition one.) The thing is that there are a number of mental steps towards producing anything such as an article, a blog or even a letter to a friend.

Something on the coast . . .
. . . or something inland.
The first step is to create a mental space in which words can jumble around together, make connections and begin to make sense of what you want to say. This is why there are times when people talking to you at the wrong moment can be so incredibly irritating – without realising it they are making this step very much harder.

Something wild . . .
. . . or something cultivated.
Hopefully during step one some sort of theme will present itself and the time has come to move on to step two. This is what I would describe as ‘the deep brood step’ when you investigate the various directions in which you can go, try to decide what will be important and what will not and the order in which those selected should be written. This is usually completely mental – at least for me. No notes and yet, when I have finished, I will have explored every strand to the very end even if I am not sure which (if any) will live to see the light of day. Quite often this takes place (in part at least for it is a step often broken into a number of ‘steplets’) in the middle of the night.

Somewhere bleak . . .
. . . or warm and lush.
Now we settle down to write. A bit of buzz, things going on to give out some energy: I’m not sure what it is and it could be quite mundane but you do need something to get you started. When you are actually writing you do not want to be interrupted – you very seriously do not want that. Most of the time there will be a certain phrase that you are holding on to in your head until your fingers have caught up and it is written. Until then it is in great peril. The wrong word at the wrong time and it will be lost – and probably lost for ever. So, no interruptions means you have a choice. Bury yourself in your study or work in one of the cafés where you know people will leave you alone – partly because I am sure there is a good deal in my body language that says ‘do not interrupt’ (I have been told that when I am writing I look very unapproachable) and partly because I am sure that people are terrified that if they do talk to you you will bore the pants off them.
Something big and bold . . .
. . . or small and shy.
If the last sentence puzzles you I would say that Totnes is a great place for people who want to be writers and these are only too pleased to have someone stop and ask them what they are writing. Once the question has been posed the flood gates tend to open and the poor questioner is now a captive audience for however long it takes. 

This week steps one and two were taken in bed – step three in my study while (oh the irony of the situation) Marcia is sitting in Totnes outside Seeds and enjoying a spot of mid-morning coffee in the sunshine. This I know as she has just sent me a text to tell me so. Mind you, this is a reward for doing the shopping so it would be churlish to complain.
Humour me. What do think this is?
Finally, I love reading your comments (both here and on Facebook) and emails. Most days I receive over a hundred emails and it is with deep regret that I can’t answer them all. As time goes on I spend more and more time asleep and I really can’t keep up but please don’t stop. I find them very encouraging and a great source of strength so many, many thanks to you all. I will, of course, answer as many as I can.