Tuesday, 18 February 2014

The Creative - a Journey - Linda Strachan

As a writer, wherever I am wherever I go the story is always there playing in my head in quiet moments.

I am  currently on the other side of the world in New Zealand, and it is the middle of the night (at home) as I write this.  Summer while at home it is winter but after a while it no longer seems strange and ideas that  are generated by living in a different place.

But the fantastic thing about travel is the people you meet, and the different cultures, ways of using words and the stories you hear (or overhear!) that start to grow in your head.

While in Adelaide, South Australia we met up with a writer from home who had just completed an amazing trip on a ship carrying the Clipper City of Adelaide form Scotland to it's final berth in Adelaide .cityofadelaide.org.au/  It was an amazing journey and I can't wait to read the book she is writing about her experiences.
We also met up with Catdownunder who lives in Adelaide and it made me realise how people who write speak the same language wherever they are in the world.

But this writing lark although wonderful, it can make you want to tear your hair out at times.
Does it ever get any easier? I don't think it does, really.

 You write something that is dear to your heart with characters that matter to you.
 They live and breathe and become as close to you as family. You laugh and cry while they surprise you; walking in and out of the story having crisis, disasters, broken hearts and moments of pure joy. You spend hours, days, weeks and months wrestling with their story, at times ready to toss it all into the bin and at others elated having solved a knotty plot problem.

 The road the story takes is at times like running after a snowball down a hill, at others pushing an enormous boulder up a mountain. About three quarters of the way up the mountain towards the crisis point every problem the characters face appear to be unsolvable. you hit a brick wall and you are sure the story is fit for nothing but the compost heap.

 Despair, thinking of all the wasted time you have spent on it, because nothing you write is ever going to be of interest to anyone. Just as you want to give up, a Eureka! Moment, and the answer to the problem  appears like magic along with renewed enthusiasm and excitement.

Before you know it you've reached the tipping point and you rush towards that wonderful moment when can type THE END.

 Delight and pride in your new creation lasts until you send it off..... This begins another roller coaster of emotion as you wonder, will your publisher/agent like it? Will they greet it with enthusiasm and delight or... no, the other possibility is not worth thinking about.

 Does it ever get any easier....?
 Possibly not, but perhaps that is what drives us to write. The joy and excitement of a new idea, new characters and getting lost in a world of your own creation... that never gets old!


Linda Strachan  is  Patron of Reading to Liberton High School, Edinburgh 

Author of over 60 books for all ages from picture books to teenage novels and a writing handbook  Writing For Children    Her latest YA novel is Don't Judge Me  

website:  www.lindastrachan.com
blog: Bookwords


www.poetryjoe.com said...

I love that moment when answers to plot problems reveal themselves… makes you wonder… who's doing the writing!? Great post.

Penny Dolan said...

Sounds a magical trip - but stories can be pesky company at times. Glad the eureka moment arrived. (If it hasn't, it will, I'm sure.)

Andrew said...

Long ago, as a young bus driver in Glasgow, I passed that ship every day. She was called the 'Carrick'.

If I'd known then that the ship was a clipper, I'd have taken a lot more interest. Although I'm Glaswegian, one side of my family were all Cornish tin miners and seafarers. One of my 19th century forebears went to Austraila, made his fortune in a gold rush. Ballarat, I think.

He returned to Cornwall, used the money to set up a small shipping company, did well, and I believe part-owned a tea clipper.

Clippers were only intended to have a life of little more than 20 years. Good to see this one, as a migrant ship, has made it to its spiritual home.


catdownunder said...

Linda already knows how much I enjoyed meeting her (and Stuart!)although I wish the weather had been better and they could have seen more.
But Linda, thankyou for the ultimate compliment - including me in the "writer" category - I'll have to keep trying. At least I understand the "plot knot" problem and you are so right about characters having lives of their own.