Monday, October 04, 2010

Only one step from the sublime to the ridiculous - Napolean Bonaparte

When the cat's away, the mouse will blog in bed!

I went to the first session of my writing class today. I'm taking a beginners class for writing children's stories. I'm not sure why I signed up, rather spur of the moment I think, the Open University is going to hoover up the precious little spare time I had, but I thought "what the heck, I'm a big girl, I can be spontaneous, I can throw caution to the wind and do a writing course" Phew! so, there is me, sat at a desk with a big empty page in front of me, my pencil case and a pen. Of course, most of the writing I do these days requires little more muscle action than fast, qwerty style flicking of my fingers. Writing. With. A. Pen. takes other muscles. Writing HURTS!

Anyway, enough of the whinging. So, this course. It's eight weeks I think, or maybe ten, I don't know, I'll probably just keep turning up until one day no one is there. I have always had this little part of me, alongside the little "diva me" that wants to sing in a West End production, that thinks (misguidedly) that I could maybe write a book for a child. I can't remember the words to Cinderella without LMB correcting me, so I'm probably fighting a losing battle here. I don't really know where I'm heading and what age I want to write for, other than I love to write and I love to dream, ( if there were a job where I could be paid for daydreaming I'd be on my yacht in the Carribean typing this right now rather than in my bed upstairs with the dog snoring in the corner!) but what better place to start than a class with some structure - hopefully!

First session today we wrote a letter. One was to a young pre school child and the other an older child. The brief (sorry, wrong noun, but I've just finished watching Spooks - that's the other little part of me - MI5 agent !) was that we were away from the child and writing back to explain why.

I have two main faults in my writing:
1. I write as I speak, so maybe I should be a pod caster rather than trying to write a book
2. I cannot stay within my word count, possible reasons for this being reason 1. I like to talk...

Homework was two short pieces of up to 200 words each. One was recalling childhood memories as a five year old, the other, recalling memories aged 12.

Writing about things you know is a writers winning secret (well, not really a secret because everyone knows that, but it sounds good!). Use your surroundings, places you've been and write for the children in your life. What do they like to do, talk about, play with?
So deciding to test this theory I engaged Master Beehive the younger in some light conversation this evening as he made his nightly toilet trip.
"Can we go to Olik Firth?" he asks, standing on his bed, eyes glazed and somewhat rolling.
"Olik Firth (hope you like the spelling!) - where's that?" I ask, delighted that he's cooperating
"Weeeeeeeellllllll, you didn't go there on the way."
"Go where sweetheart"
Just then his older brother enters the bathroom - hurrah, family bog-fest!
"Thomas goes to Thomas"
What The F***? Now he's losing it - I am not seeing a story emerging here at all. It was hopeful with the mystical land of Olik Firth, but now, it's just getting nonsensical.
"On the way to swimming." he tries again
"Okay, so on the way to swimming I forgot to go somwhere, where, where did I forget to go" GIVE ME MY PLOT LINE GOD DAMN IT
"What?" he asks
"You were telling me that I'd forgotten to go somwhere honey, was it Olik Firth? Did I forget to go to Olik Firth? What is at Olik Firth?"
"She!" he sighs, exasperated with me and my inability to keep up with this story.
"Olik Firth is a SHE!"
"Oh" right, quickly scribbling, not the scene but the character...hmmm, chewing pencil...
"She goes to Tae Kwon Do" (he went there this evening)
"Oh so you forgot to go to her house?"
"No!" he glares. "You forgot to go to Target*!"

Okay, scrap that brainstorming session, although I suppose it's better than forgetting to go to Iceland**

I have just mailed my effort off to my tutor warning him of the fact that my word count is currently three times the amount required - oops! and that it turned into some kind of psychotherapy. There is no mention of Olik Firth or of my inability to remember to go to Target today or when I was five or twelve.

I'm still no closer in working out what my boy wants to read about or getting inspiration from him for a storyline, but I think I may be one step closer to the surreal if anyone cares to join me?

*a rather large store. A staple element of the American consumer diet selling all things cheap, cheerful and just what you didn't know you didn't really need, but want. A Walmart for the slightly discerning and delicate of nature and for those people who love red!

** no, not a country, well, it IS a country, but not in this context. A cheap and cheerful, budget grocery store, selling all things frozen (primarily) from fish to faggots. Also owners of irritating commercials using nauseating ex popstars to tell us everything in the world will be okay because "Mum went to Iceland"

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