I am a loner by nature, and being around people – especially people I don’t know well – emotionally exhausts me… Interacting with other people makes me be on my guard all the time. The reasons for this are numerous and would take too long to explain. Let’s just say I am extremely weary of people in general. Going to exhibitions, the theatre and gigs doesn't really count, I guess, as one can still remain in one’s own little bubble, even though it gets reduced a great deal.
There was also the fact that I have never shown my work to anyone else. My work in music journalism was of an entirely different nature, and a lot of people read my articles and reviews, but that didn't bother me. I knew I was good at it and I was talking about other artists’ work, not mine. Fiction writing is completely different: you disclose your inner world to others, whatever comes out of your imagination is part of you and it can feel intimidating.
Metal’s Lab: On writing fiction wasn't full of pedantic self-aggrandising wannabe authors who, having paid good money to get a place on a course, feel entitled to behave like the customer they are; after all, “the customer is King”. They expect to be told how to become a famous author in 10 steps, just because they’re worth it – or at least they are worth something because they have paid.
All the people on last week’s course had been invited to attend after a rigorous selection process, and all 9 of us felt very thankful and privileged to have been picked.
One thing was immediately obvious: there was passion in there. We all had very different personalities, backgrounds and life experiences. But we also all had a passion for books, for the written word, for our writing. Chalkwell Hall was filled with energy the whole week; you could feel the subtle power of creative brains at work.
There was also a lot of talent. I was absolutely amazed at the quality of the work produced by the other participants and their knowledge of literature – and of a lot of other subjects too!
Nobody was dabbling; we were into serious writers’ territory, there.
It was a humbling, inspiring, energising experience.
The staff at Metal were absolutely wonderful: friendly and genuinely interested, they listened and observed without dictating.
A special thank has to go to Syd Moore, our “tutor” and “team leader” for the week, for her guidance, expertise and encouragement.
I love listening to other people and absorb information like a sponge, and therefore that’s what I have mainly done: I listened, and I learned a lot.
On Monday and Tuesday, we had special guest speakers, all seasoned authors in their own right.
I am quite happy with that scene and will post it in The Right Place section of this website when I have done the small amendments that need doing.
On the Friday, when I finally stood up in front of the small, intimate audience to read an extract of the piece I had produced earlier in the week, I thought I was going to faint; I was so very nervous! I could swear small silvery stars momentarily danced in front of my eyes – for a whole second, and I forgot to breathe. It was a very different feeling to the one you have when standing in front of a class of 30 attention deficit disorder-riddled teenagers - I am an ex-teacher.
This was just so much bigger.
But I did it, and I think this first time was very very important. I believe I was the only participant who had never read to an audience before…
So now it’s a year to Metal’s Shorelines Festival – the literature festival of the sea – and we have all been invited to participate… I already have an idea about what I would like to do, but it is a whole year away and therefore I will not dwell on it…
I have gained a lot from this intense week, and I know that from now on, I will be approaching my writing in a slightly different manner. The instinct needs to be supported by more craft, and this is the recipe I will be using.
I have been thinking about revising my (hopefully) about to be self-published novel I Am a Muse before publication, but I am now running out of time.
I will be doing a quick read through this week but will leave it as it is: rather raw and incredibly imperfect, a naïve and probably not fully formed first novel.