Becca over at Write on Wednesday has invited me to put up my reason for writing, alongside other writers. She’s created a great blog, where we, aspiring (and published) writers, can talk about our writing, exchange ideas with others, and so take us out of the loneliness of the writing experience. Because lonely it can be, you must admit, especially when you battle against all odds to try and keep going. By all odds I mean daytime jobs, family commitments, writers’ block, inexperience, sheer loneliness or other worries that keep one from writing or that make one feel useless and inadequate. So even if it is Saturday now, here is my piece.
I created this blog because I wanted to tell the stories; I wanted to give myself the space to write about the things that are in my mind, my experiences and my observations, how people relate to each other in different cultures, from different background and in different countries . I want to write about the craziness of life, and relate stories about my own life from small claustrophobic and religiously strangulating village in Holland, one of eight children, to living in London, Amsterdam, Iran, back to Holland and then to England again, haphazardly it seems, always pushed along by my choices, made within a larger context of instability and curiosity and love for people, of rejection and of picking oneself up again. On the surface of it, everything is so normal, I’m not that different from a lot of people, women, I am a mother of two, only once divorced, remarried, a career woman in later life, a grandmother, someone who was reasonably good at sport and enjoys a good swim, who reads and reads and reads and always has a book nearby, who has written soppy diaries and started once or twice on something that was going to be a novel but never persevered and who now finds herself with this urge to write seriously, to do it, to stop finding the excuses as to why I haven’t got the time or the energy or the space. I have actually got one or two things printed and published but these are non-fiction pieces: a chapter in a book on experiences of exchange students, and a couple of research papers. My writing has always been considered of good quality, so much so that I received a commendation for an MA dissertation on (English) education policy, ‘for excellent writing’. But I have never persevered with the much more difficult craft of writing a good story, writing life stories in fictional format.
So I’m writing now, I’ve started that novel again and am about 40,000 words into it, for the second time round. I had written all that and more about a year ago, in a dreadful format, telling all the way, writing a report and feeling hopelessly inadequate. Now I’ve done a couple of OU courses on creative writing and have started reading differently, I can see where I went wrong, what I need to do to improve it and make it interesting for a reader, but also for my granddaughter for whom I really started all this. I want her to know where she comes from, who her grandmother was, I want to tell her the stories that my parents and grandparents never told me, because they were too busy with everyday life and with the fear of god in them. And now I am writing a novel about loss and choice, but in particular it’s about women’s lives within different countries and how they sometimes are forced to make uneasy choices. I have also written a couple of short stories that were considered of publishable quality by my creative writing tutor, and have submitted one. I’ll keep at it!
And the blog? It helps me with my routine of writing and with thinking about the books I read, because I firmly believe that you cannot write without reading, and reading widely, with an eye on style and voice and understanding why some writers catch your imagination and others just don’t.
And I could start this piece all over again, and it would come out differently, the only constant would be that I write about relationships, about women, about choices in different settings and countries and how these different environments create different barriers and can sometimes be so similar even if countries and cultures are miles apart, literally and figuratively. And I find it hugely rewarding to hear about other people’s approaches and thinking and see how they tackle this huge challenge: good writing.