A word is worth a thousand pictures, I think. Or, should that be the other way round? I’m a writer, not a mathematician, which explains why I might not be entirely sure. It doesn’t explain why I took three attempts to spell ‘mathematician’, before giving up and using the spellchecker (a word which, ironically, the spellchecker on my particular browser doesn’t recognise).
Anyway, I often feel a compelling urge to set my fiction in places I know, usually Wolverhampton. I’m fascinated by the combination of dereliction, restoration and construction that can be found in this and other cities. Often this comes out as slightly outlandish similes and metaphors. The scene below I would probably describe as ‘ looking like a cheap toy garage in a particularly untidy adolescent’s bedroom’.
Does this help the story come alive? Does it get in the way of the story? Is story that important anyway? Depending on your answer to these questions, you are either my ideal reader, a potential agent, or one of 7 billion reasons why no commercially-minded publisher would touch me. Whichever you are, feel free to get in touch.
A few years ago, I wrote a post on by other blog about the fact that I don’t drive. Things have changed since I wrote that: I’m not 37 anymore. I still don’t drive, and I still take a slightly perverse pleasure in it. This morning, it occurred to me that for a writer driving is a waste of time.
I sometimes think that it must be impossible to be a writer: you need to write, obviously and read; you need to re-write (Paul Abbott says so); you also need to have a life – not only are they useful in themselves, but they give fantastic material. How on earth does anyone find the time?
This is why I would find driving another drain on my time. Travelling by public transport, which I do a lot, I can read, observe, listen and on a train I can even write. Walking, which I also do quite a bit, provides an opportunity to explore and mull things over. None of these things is really possible while driving: it’s not easy to make a sudden turn down an interesting-looking side street – I genuinely think that is important for a writer.
I’m sure that there are many great writers who drive – aside from anything being a non-driver makes me a very rare beast – I just don’t see how they find the time.
I really don’t like thinking about characters. I don’t like doing it as a reader – that’s not to say that I don’t do it, just that I don’t like to – and I don’t like doing it as a writer. What does this character want? What do they need? What delineates him or her from the other characters? I can’t get away from the thought that it’s all just words on a bit of paper. I’d rather write beautiful sentences than memorable characters. Am I apologising for this? Probably. Am I going to change? I try. Does it make me a bad writer? I don’t think so.