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So You Think Writing’s Easy Do You?

August 20th, 2014

editing-blogRight, listen. I’ve got to get this off my chest – writing is no simple thing.

What am I on about? Well, I play in a band. We write songs and, where the guys spend hours going over a  tune to get the notes right, when it comes to lyrics they’re really lax. “First thing that comes in to your head,” they’ll say. Or, “We’re not changing it.” I despair sometimes.

I mean, if you listen to something like Bob Dylan’s ‘Hurricane’, you can only wonder how he crow-barred the tale of a boxer framed for murder into the precise rhyme and meter of a song. It’s awesome, and I’ll bet it wasn’t the first thing that came into his head.

The same goes for poetry. I’ve a friend who keeps a notebook beside her bed. Sometimes she wakes up in the middle of the night overcome with emotion, words race through her head and she writes them down, straight away. It’s a wonderful way to get material. But what does she do with it? “I never re-write,” she says. “What comes out in the night is my finished poem. It’s true.”

Well, to my mind, it may be true, but it’s not finished. Alison Chisholm, the much-decorated author of our very own poetry course, has this to say about producing a new piece: “Once you’ve got the first germ of an idea you have to be willing to experiment … You have to be willing to spend a lot of time on this experimentation, and it may be some considerable time before you find the definitive way of writing the poem.”

Now, there speaks someone who knows about writing. It takes time, and it can indeed take some considerable time to craft a finished piece. I wrote about spontaneity last week, and that’s essential as part of the writing process, but it’s not the whole thing. As Gustave Flaubert put it: “One mustn’t always believe that feeling is everything. In the arts, it is nothing without form.”

Keep on writing!

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About The Author: Diana Nadin

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