Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Happy Writing New Year

I've been working as a tutor for the Open College of the Arts for quite a few years now, but it constantly amazes me that so many people want to learn to write creatively. Maybe because writers 'do it in their heads', I used to assume I was a slightly odd person, alone in my passion. Surely no one else had a brain like mind, filled with all that writing I couldn't help but do?

But I'm not alone. I have a file filled with other people's names, all of who long to write well...some of whom already are writing well...profiles of their writing lives, and their reasons for taking OCA writing courses. When they phone me, students often start with...hope I'm not bothering you...Bother! do they realize just how much I love talking about all aspects of writing? And are they ready for the way I will rabbit on about writing?

People long to write. It's a way of letting thoughts, opinions, memories and stories pour out of our heads. A bit like Dumbledor's Pensieve...down through our arms, into our fingers and onto a screen. After I've written (a blog...a novel...) I feel so good...orgasmic, almost. I have to pull in one of those shuddering deep breaths that tell you everything is alllllright with the world. For now, at least.

This is one of the reasons I love to blog. So that I can share my love and longing for writing with other writers. As a blogging virgin, I used wondered if it wasn't it just all waffle. Then I listened (on radio 4) to the Iraqi girl who blogged her life during the war in Iraq and it was sobering and fascinating. Actually, one of my own OCA sudents has won an award for her natural history blogs. But when I surfed other people's blogs randomly...don't know quite how to put this politely... their sheer mind-blowing tedium and egocentricity gave me short-term attention span.

Blogs, in their essence, are simply the thoughts of ordinary people - this is their glory, but also their downfall. Millions of words sliding throug the ether...how do you catch the nuggets of gold among them?
I do hope - I certainly try - to make my blog interesting, informative and varied. In 2012 I promise my subscribers that's exactly what I will be continuing to do.

Happy Writing New Year


  1. As you know, I'm passionate about blogs. You're right there are thousands, indeed millions, of rubbish ones, and whilst that's also true of TV and cinema and books and newspapers I'd agree there's a much higher percentage of dross in the blogosphere.

    But then most people blogging are not creative writers in the sense that students from OCA are. To find those you have to look on the specialist forums and blogging groups - they're not always as interesting as you might hope.

    The thing I like most about blogs is that they offer anyone the chance to be published. And in so doing they've allowed and encouraged more people to take up writing than any other development or art initiative or media I can think of. Sure, lots of it is dull, but not all, and thats that's the important point.

    The week before Christmas we had a card from our first babysitter - she is now thirty, a stay at home mum , and she's started a blog - would I take look she asked. With some trepidation I did - and it was fantastic; not perfectly polished but proper writing, real feelings carefully expressed, subtle humour and sensitive appreciation of what's around her. Reading that blog was one of the highlights of my Christmas.

    How do you catch the nuggets of gold? I guess like the old prospectors, there's a lot of sifting involved - but when you find some, boy can it glitter.

  2. Thanks for those really wise words, Mark. People berate the internet in general, and emailing, blogging and social sites in particular for destroying previous skills such as letter writing. But I just can't see that. Pen and ink may be less sexy than in previous times, but writing for pleasure and communication is alive and well.