A return to writing

So one of the things I’ve set myself as a project to do here in Glasgow is to have a crack at writing. I really haven’t done any writing for years. Funny… English was easily my best subject in high school and the one that interested me the most. For some reason the interest waned over the years, other things became more important like ‘making a living’, ‘buying stuff’, ‘getting in (and out of) relationships’.

My writing in school was a mixture of fiction and non-fiction. I remember getting some great marks for short stories. I have no idea where those stories are now which is really a shame. They got thrown out one day, when I thought “pah, what use are these old things?”. I wrote quite a bit of poetry too, particularly when I went through those angsty teen years around fourteen to sixteen. These poems I still have, tucked into diaries, safely stored in my Petone lock-up.  I think I will be able to recall some of those off the top of my head. That will be good fodder for a future post!

So back to present day writing. I’m working on a non-fiction title here. I won’t say what it’s about at this stage. Some of you might guess the subject matter. One of my friends suggested a few years ago that I’d be the perfect person to write about this. That made a difference when I sat down to contemplate this seriously. I valued that person’s opinion as they know me better than most.

I’m at about the 20,000 word mark with this. Yeh, it sounds like a lot I know and I’m proud to have got this far. The first 15,000 actually flew onto the page. I obviously had something to say. The last 5,000 have been harder. I went back and re-read some of what I’d written. I started to see repeated phrases and terms that I seem to use a lot. This made me start to doubt my ability to write the remainder in an engaging and interesting style, “Oh god, I’ve used that term again”.  I started to overthink what I wanted to say before I actually put it onto the page.   Urghhh!

As it’s a non-fiction work I also found that I started to get to hung up on facts, checking the facts, verifying the facts, going out to research more facts….and on. This slowed me down a lot as I started relying on these facts and simply regurgitating them, rather than writing what I believed in and writing in my personal style. Perhaps this is just a phase.  I think at least I’ve recognised it and can see how it’s affecting my writing progress. I’m aware of the situation.

Like any project you take on, after a couple of weeks solid work it has lost some of its gloss. I worry about this but I am aware of it and the stage I’m in. My inspiration is not the 20,000 words that I’ve completed so far but the fact that if I printed out what I’d done so far it’s likely stack to about 72 pages. That’s a fair pile of paper. Looking at a travel book alongside me I see a lot of blank or almost blank pages in there (chapter heading pages, blank part-pages at the end of chapters etc), which are not accounted for in my 72 pages. I can probably stop now then and print out a 125 page book!

Alas, I’m not even halfway through my subject matter for this book, so it’s looking like it should stretch to 250 to 300 pages as a competed work.  That sounds like an achievement to me.

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