Saturday, 14 November 2009

Ten Year On

I saw my first creative writing tutor in the supermarket yesterday, and realised that it's exactly ten years since I started writing. As a child my dream was to live in a house of books, with enough money to buy any book I fancied, and enough time to read it. Becoming a writer was something that only occurred to me much later. I made various unsuccessful attempts throughout my twenties, at best getting to Chapter 3 before giving up. I had ideas, but none of them could make the transition from my head to the page.

Then, many years later, I was trying to move to Bath. I'd enrolled my children in Bath schools but the house hadn't materialised, so I was driving them in, spending the day househunting, then driving back. But there weren't enough houses to fill a whole day of looking, so it seemed my opportunity to start writing. I went to class one morning a week and wrote the rest of the time. I can remember presenting my very first story. It was just over 400 words and I was thrilled and appalled. Thrilled because I'd actually finished something and it had a beginning, middle and an end, and appalled because it was only 400 words and I couldn't see how on earth I could make it longer.

The class was brilliant in giving me a focus. Each week I wrote and wrote and then listened to the feedback. I read even more and tried to copy what I saw real authors do. And gradually my stories became longer without me even trying, just because I was adding more depth, more detail. Ten years on I've written five novels and I now teach that same Friday morning class. But I always remember how difficult it seemed at the beginning, how impossible. It still seems impossible, to be honest. I just know that the answer is to write, and carry on writing.


Fia said...

How wonderful to be teaching a class you once attended.

At a course I signed up for last year,I found I learnt as much from reading my peers' work as from my own.

Sarah Duncan said...

That's one of the joys of classes. I think the process of reading and listening to other people's work is the quickest way to learn. I love 'em!