Posted by: Corri van de Stege | September 21, 2008

The Sunday Salon – What I have and have not done this week


What I haven’t done this week:

I have not contributed to Write on Wednesday even if I read Becca’s post and thought a lot about it whilst driving, travelling, before going to sleep…..

I thought a lot about relationships and how defining moments often become the plot of a story, or a sub plot, they reveal what characters are like.  It is being able to reveal the different points of view in any such moments through your writing that make them defining in story.

I have not read a great deal.

I have not written any fiction

I have not spent any time on my course work (the creative writing course)


What I have done:

I have thought about writing a lot

I have despaired about never having the time to really seriously move forward

I have written a huge (non fiction) draft report

I have done a lot of (professional) research

I have travelled some 500 miles by car and worked some 60 hours, on reports, workshops, with clients…

I have taken photos of my hotel room in Wales, which I will use for future scene setting: here is a snap of what is the Forrest Room:


I have compiled a list of favourite books for reading ‘whilst on the road’ in response to a request by Flashlight Worthy – more about that some other time.

I have read half of a first novel written by Eliza Graham ‘Playing with the Moon’, and although at times I find the plot line a bit farfetched, the writing is good and it is very readable.


And the Sunday Salon?

It is a glorious late September Sunday and time to be outside to read the Sunday papers, fill my writer’s notebook with paragraphs and the beginnings of a story and course exercises [e.g. introducing dramatic tension between  characters]. 

You notice there is a little booklet on Poetry.  As from yesterday, the Guardian started the ‘How to Write’ Series and continued today in Observer with a supplement on How to Write Poetry.  Others to follow will be on Film, Drama, etc.  Yesterday’s was on How to Write Fiction: a whole year’s course in one supplement, well, kind of.  Lavina Greenlaw provides the tutorials on Poetry and she introduces them with a quote from Michael Longley:

If I knew where poems came from, I’d go there.


The same goes for writing novels and stories of course, whatever genre, you cannot ‘learn’ how to do it, neither can anyone ‘teach’ you how to do it, except for giving you some techniques and tools.  In the end, you’ve just got to keep at it!






  1. Love the pictures, as always! Yes, I noticed the poetry booklet.

    I don’t know; can we balance all this stuff, really do it, and keep our jobs, too?

  2. I wondered if you’d seen the booklet in the Guardian and if so what you thought of it. Not being a writer I found it hard to judge, but I did wonder about the feasibility of distilling such a complex act into such a tiny space.

  3. Oh: that is the big question – there may have to come a point that we have to make choices…
    Ann Darnton: I joked when I saw it and said: I spent the whole of last year on that and they’ve now, as you say ‘distilled it in such a tiny space’. I guess the answer is in the doing (and that takes time), not the scanning of some text that tells you all about it. Let’s say it’s a concise overview of what’s involved 🙂

  4. I sympathise with you on your busy schedule and all that travel. I have periods like that too and I don’t think despair is too strong a word to apply to the feeling that comes when the writing it getting farther away and I feel I’ll never get back to it. But then I get a little time and things are good. One day that linearity and predictability will come. I’m sure of it.

    Your bottom line is a lesson I resisted learning, but finally did. I love reading about writing and taking classes and talking about writing, but in the end, it’s all about getting the writing done. As simplistic and unglamorous as it is, it does come down to that.

    I read THE STORY OF EDGAR SAWTELLE this week and I was up half the night for two nights in a row because I could not put it down. The author, a software developer, took over a decade to write it and it shows. Each scene, paragraph, sentence and word felt like it was exactly right. I haven’t often read novels, especially first novels that are polished to such a lovely sheen, but this one was. I think that’s another comfort I take in frequently not having the time to write. Anything worth doing is worth doing well and although I hope it won’t take me another decade to finish writing my piece, I’ll take as much time as I need to make it the best that I can.

    I hope the work slows down for you soon and you get more time with your fiction.

  5. Lisa: thank you for this – it’s great when you get a response and think: that’s it, that is actually what I was trying to say and come to terms with and today was one of those days that I reflected: yes, anything worth doing is worth doing well, and at the same time it’s as well to realise that, when daily schedules are overful, you can only do that many things well in your life: when the going gets tough, you need to make choices and so I have to keep a focus on what it is that I want to do, and keep at it. For the time being it’s juggling, there will come a time when I decide that writing my stories is all I’m going to do from now on…..

  6. Hm, I like your picture for the scenary setting, first thing I noticed were the shoes. What a funny place to place your shoes. It might actually give me some inspiration. 🙂

    If you get the chance, could you let me know when the How To Write Film and How To Write Drama pieces are published in The Guardian. So I can buy those issues here. I’m going to do a lesson on that in my English class sometime soon. Thank you in advance.

    I hope you’ll find some more time to actually write in the coming weeks.

  7. Pinguino Engado: I never actually thought about ‘placing’ my shoes there, but now that you mention it…. yes, quite a strange place… Will keep in touch about the Film and Drama pieces: they’ll be published during next week. Watch my posts! Nice of you to pop by!

  8. What a lovely supplement to have in your paper! Nothing like that here, I’m afraid!

    You are having such busy weeks, with traveling and now your writing course. I’m thinking of you as you try to fit it all in!

  9. Sounds like we’ve not done a lot of the same things!

  10. Becca: mmmm yes, I keep hoping (against hope?) that I will soon have a really calm (and relaxed) working week, but such weeks don’t seem to materialise much. The supplements are lovely, yes.
    Andi: I feel for you too!

  11. Well, I think you have MORE than enough reasons for skipping out on a WOW prompt this week! You’ve been a busy one, that’s for sure! I’m not seeing a calm week for awhile — but I guess that must be normal!

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