I’m struggling with a work in progress. I’m definitely more a pantser than a planner, although I do use a kind of “planning as a sideline while you write” system.
Even so, there’s been a great gap in the story.
I couldn’t see how to tie up the plot strands strongly enough. And I do mean “see”.
My writing brain is mostly visual, and for too long – with this particular story, not others - I’ve stared at the fuzzy blank screen that is my mind, finding little but “You may be experiencing problems with your reception” messages.
This “stuck” time has not been pretty or comfortable, even in this much edited account. My brain just didn’t dream the story any more.
But recently things have started to ease. Mainly through a friend’s suggestion, I’ve suddenly “seen” a new visual image. It may be strong enough to stand as the linking symbol that the novel needs. But it’s been such a hard, sterile process getting here.
I’m feeling – almost – as if I might be working with writing that’s singing and that’s what I want. (Before you ask, the other is for the writing to sing in the readers head. Ah, the writer's vanity!)
However – and this is my really BIG and IMPORTANT point – two weeks ago I heard someone else despairing about writing:
“I don’t like writing. How can I put in an introduction and a problem and a development and a complication and a resolution all in about twenty-five minutes? It’s just not possible!”
Knowing – as you’ve heard – something about the writing process, how I agree with that writer.Is it twenty five or thirty five minutes? Hardlyt hink that matters.
How very angry and despairing I feel on his behalf, because I know he is a six and a half year old being trained for his KS1 SATs story writing task!
Just compare that with Anna Wilson’s joyful account of her early scribbles a day or two ago on ABBA!
It’s even possible that his problems are made worse by the fact that he is a very capable reader and therefore knows how complicated language and stories can be.
All I see is that – and not even out of Key Stage One - this boy no longer feels he can be a writer, a communicator, a maker with words.
GRRrrrr! Totally saddening. Angry making. Enraging. A bitter thought for me and definitely for him.
“No problem,” says someone important. A Gove-alike. “Never mind, once this is done, he’ll have chances to revisit story during Key Stage Two.
Unfortunately, from what I have picked up on my school travels, his other story writing opportunities will be few. They seem to be Rewriting a Myth, Writing a Quest story and possibly An Adventure Story.
Less than ONE story a YEAR in Key Stage Two. That's four years of a child's life.
Never mind. Perhaps the long months of recounts and persuasive writing and adverts and so on will inspire him, now that the education system is set on killing the story dead.
For more than one child, I fear.
Now that’s a hollow screen for staring at, all right.
A Boy Called M.O.U.S.E. (Bloomsbury)