Tuesday, 5 October 2010
Mslexia magazine runs a regular feature called 100 Ways to Write a Book. It takes a a given author then sets out exactly how they work. This includes stuff like how they plan out their novels, where they write them, and where and when the best ideas tend to strike.
The sub-heading is The Hilary Mantel Method, or The Ali Smith Method or whoever is featured. You get the picture. Now much as I love to read this stuff, all this talk about ‘method’ makes me feel as though I’m looking at the Grown Up Table.
The sad truth is, even though I’m currently writing my fifth novel, including a first attempt that should have stayed in a bottom drawer, I don’t have a clue what sort of writer I am. I’m neither a plotter nor a panter. I seem to be a strange mixture of both. I don’t always make notes in a notebook, nor on the computer. I don’t tend to get my ideas when I walk the dog or have a long bath or do the gardening. Although I do sometimes. I don’t have any half useful tip for coping with writer’s block. Heck, I don’t even know what my preferred writing snack is, and that’s a question we at Strictly Writing ask in all our questionnaires.
I love the idea of being so comfortable in my writing skin that I can hold forth on my methods. But somehow, I have a feeling it's not part of who I am.
I guess this extends to life beyond writing too. Despite being middle aged [see, even writing that makes me want to look over my own shoulder to see who I’m talking about] with a house and two kids and an estate car and life insurance, I don’t entirely feel as though I’m grown up yet. When is this magical feeling of adulthood going to happen? Is there something missing in me that it hasn’t happened by the age of fortysomething? Am I, in fact, just really, really immature?
Maybe it’s why I write for children. It gives me an excuse to inhabit worlds where mortgages and estate cars and life insurance don’t play much of a role.
I like to tell myself it’s a good thing because I never forget that I still have an enormous amount to learn, both in terms of writing and life in general.
But I do wonder when I’m going to feel I’ve earned a place with the grown ups.