Veronique Darwin

Nuggets

In Inspiration on July 10, 2015 at 6:48 pm

Nuggets – things I grew up thinking were chunks of chickens, not chunks of gold – are where I get my ideas. Writers say they get their ideas from the world around them, from other books, or from research. Okay. But aren’t you mainly just inspired by a nugget? A truth, often simple, generally arrived at on the toilet or in the shower, and in popular culture featured on Twitter. Nuggets! I get my ideas from writing down nuggets, and then trying to recreate the bird.

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Oh, what fun writing can be if you only draw one eye and have to uncover the rest of the decomposing body. What a joy it can be when you realize that you don’t have all the pieces, and the reader won’t either, and that this arm and this leg and part of this torso are all your story needs. It’s a way of discovering the ending too: what is left to tell? What should be left untold?

I tried writing a fantasy story today. It may have worked. Fantasy feels like history, as though you need a keen sense of what has come before and what rules are required of you before you begin. But today I let myself go (which is really my only mode of writing, a loose, lazy letting go of self never really followed by a catch). And out came this spool of a story that had wings, and monsters, but was still a peephole into our own world, which I think all good fantasy must be.

I know fantasy through Neil Gaiman and children’s literature. What I know from reading these books is that a world needs to be clear to the writer, and the boundaries and parameters of that world need to be divulged to the reader as soon as possible. But I also know that with a new world comes new discoveries, and unexpected surprises, and it seems that the beauty in writing this kind of fiction would be in seeing those nuggets you’ve created grow into something you’ve never heard of before but have, unwittingly, invented.

I wonder how far the story I started today will take me, how long I’ll write this blog for, or what one day I’ll think of when I hear the word nugget, but what I know is without these suggestions at truth there is no story at all. I also know that when I read a story I can find the nugget, and it gives me almost the same passion as the writer had to dig deeper, to know more. I’m reading Kafka on the Shore. 15 school children fell down all at once, hypnotized. I just finished The World Before Us. Ghosts follow one person around, trying to find out who they are. Think of Karl Ove: what if I wrote a truthful, detailed account of all of me? Nuggets: they are what stories are made from and why they are alive.

Because I Told Someone I had a Blog

In My Writing on July 8, 2015 at 8:55 pm

Because I told someone I had a blog, and gave them the URL, (which is that really a thing anymore?) I think I should write a post today. Because also I read a few previous posts and laughed at them, so can recognize that at least this blog pleases me. Because I have been writing a lot lately but maybe not thinking a lot about my writing. Because I have NOT been writing a lot lately, and where did that sentence come from?

Here is what writing has become to me lately: sometimes when I’m trying to fall asleep but can’t I think about my novel, then I fall asleep.

I opened another blog to be more professional. It has my name in the URL (which has to still be a thing) and it has pictures of me and it is meant to promote me as a serious writer. Unfortunately, I am not one, so the blog didn’t work! I am a writer who also got lost into being a teacher and being a person who buys a house and being a person who cooks and does dishes. I am being a person, and writing is hard to fit into that framework!

This is not my professional blog. This is my tree fort of complaints. This is my childhood room of insecurities. This is my diary of questions, left open on the corner of my expertly-cluttered desk, begging you to read me with few expectations and a little embarrassment (on your account, to be reading it).

B-log it is not. This is not a book, or a log. It is not a thing! It is a place I go to when I want to think about writing but feel that the empty page, the blinking cursor, is too much right now. It is the place I go to for 3 likes on Facebook, for a boost in robot stats, for a sense of accomplishment from releasing something into the world that isn’t a sneeze, that isn’t a piece of my hair blowing out behind me.

Because writing is this thing I do and I need to do it, and stop just not doing it all the time.

A Sense of Urgency

In Literature, My Writing on July 30, 2014 at 4:00 pm

Do ants carry dead ants around to bury them? I just saw that happen! I don’t think I killed the first ant, but I very well might have.

I am feeling a newfound sense of urgency to “complete” my novel. (Studio audience laughter). I recently finished a draft that got the story out cleanly. I am now working on a draft that should be easy – fill in the bits I missed and start to make it look nice! But there is a lot more rewriting involved in that than I thought. My spirits (just the ones inside of me) are waning.

Right now the wind is blowing so warmly that I am tempted to stay outside, even though a few minutes ago I set a schedule for myself saying I would go in and see the new fan and look at the cat at 4:00. It’s nice to make a schedule on an off-day and then defy it.

There is a sense of urgency, a sense that I told someone (my imaginary editor) that I would be done soon, but alas, I am nowhere near! This sense of urgency leads me to constantly feel guilty. I just want to sit and read this very hard Virginia Woolf book for a bit and then I think no – get back to your writing!

I just looked up “how to row a dinghy” as I have to do that tomorrow. The Internet has its limitations when it comes to street or boat smarts, which is often what I need it for!

Along with the sense of urgency to complete this draft comes a sense of negativity, of self-loathing as I reread the previous one. I was so rosy-coloured glasses about it. It almost doesn’t even seem like a novel. Don’t novels have characters that seem real? Don’t they have moments that are poetic, that make you stop and think, yes, someone really knows something about life. Well, mine doesn’t have that yet. I hope that’s okay.

Sometimes senses of urgency aren’t good, like when I’m trying to sleep, or when I’m trying to “take time off”. But it is a very good thing when I am driving at night or when I need to learn things quickly, like the ukulele (today or tomorrow) and how to row a dinghy. I know I need to chill out sometimes, but it’s hard when a story is so badly wanting to be written and I am writing it so poorly! What is driving me is having it done, but I also can’t imagine how much I’m going to hate the feeling of having nothing to do but continue to read, forever it seems, that really hard Virginia Woolf novel.

Godrevy_Lighthouse_St._Ives_Bay_Cornwall_England

 

(from wallpaper.org)

 

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