Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Writing Rules (OK)

Word count: 39,853

I've finished marking my Open University assignments AND my feature about diary-writing, so I finally have time to write. Sometimes a mini-break from the WIP can be what the doctor ordered and certainly I've enjoyed writing over the last couple of days. Actually, I enjoyed the marking too but doing at least 23 hours of marking in just one week (in between the day job and all that jazz) was rather a marathon.

I never know whether it's a good sign when I'm enjoying my writing. I know that sounds very bizarre: after all, writing has to be more of a passion than a chore, otherwise none of us would bother to start, never mind finishing, stalking agents until one agrees to represent us, and so on. But certainly once you've written more than one novel, there are bound to be days when it feels like any other job.

So when you go back to a MS and find yourself smiling at the characters, or feeling good about a passage of description, there's a certain degree of nervousness. Should I really like it? Shouldn't I be in an artistic slough of self-loathing, despair etc etc? Will pride come before a fall?

I don't know the answer to this one, alas, and won't until a) I've finished and b) I've shown it to the Judges (agent, editor and, ultimately, readers) but maybe it's better not to over-analyse, but to make the most of enthusiasm.

This whole pleasure/pain aspect of writing (are we all sado-masochists? Discuss) is also in my mind because I know that, although I've been as constructive as I can in my marking, I have also needed to point out where there's room for improvement...However carefully I phrase my suggestions, I know it's hurtful when a piece you made as good as you can, comes back with some criticisms. But I also know that the right kind of editorial comment has made me a better writer, and I hope my comments might do the same for my students. Fingers crossed.

Lovely Link of the Day:
Short and sweet, this piece from Time magazine suggests Five Easy Steps to a Best-Seller, based on Dan Brown's testimony in the plagiarism case. Very funny. Am off to think of a "big idea with a grey area."


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