Emotion and serendipity
This week’s writing workshop task was a 1500 word piece based on an exercise from Burroway p122. The exercise involved placing a character in a setting to explore the ideas of home, homesickness, foreignness and alienation.
I wrote my piece and I thought I had made a good stab at it. Reading it through before sending it to my buddy for feedback it seemed to me that it was redolent with expressions of deep feelings. To my mind my character was experiencing extremes of emotion and I planned for dramatic events following this piece. I felt quite proud of it when I sent it off.
Then we met and the feedback I had was not what I was expecting. ‘There’s not enough emotion expressed here,’ said George. Yes, the piece told of my characters alienation in his lonely setting, but the emotions he might have been feeling were not coming across in the words I had written. Though the potential for drama was there, its expression was bland.
Here is where the serendipity comes in. I was checking my Facebook feed one day and I came across a video of a talk given by Bridget Holding at this year’s Swanwick Writers Summer School. Bridget (here’s a link to her website http://www.wildwords.org/ ), is a writer and psychotherapist who often presents at Swanwick. I had missed her talk during the summer so was pleased to be able to see it, Bridget is a knowledgeable and inspiring presenter. And there she was, saying just what I needed to hear. How our society and childhood can often teach us to block our emotions from expression because we are fearful of the consequences. It struck a chord with me immediately. This reluctance is there in the piece I sent for feedback. I can see it now, reading it again. after watching Bridget.
So yes, I own up to not showing my emotions as much as I might. To not vividly expressing them in my writing, to being sometimes a bit emotionally withdrawn. None of which is going to help me write engaging material. So this journey of attempting to improve my writing is also becoming one of self-exploration and revelation.
It’s exciting, and a bit scary too.
‘Writing Fiction’ Burroway, Chapter 5
‘Steering the Craft’ Ursula K Le Guin Ch 10 Crowding and Leaping
‘Milkman’ Anna Burns, finished (hooray)
‘Brokeback Mountain’ Annie Prioux
‘The Bloody Chamber’ Angela Carter
‘Once Upon a River’ Diane Setterfield (Just begun)
And a whole load of web pages about Plotting, Genre, Sub-Genre, Genre conventions etc.