Methods – talking and not talking

I don’t have much time to write an in-depth reaction to this article, but wanted to share it here. It’s an interview with a writer on the  process of writing, and the effect of sharing that writing. He believes there is something holy in the hermitical approach, in keeping a silence around what he is doing, for the entire span of writing a novel.

I, obviously, do not feel this, at least not to the same degree. But I have been thinking about how much is too much. Not that I think it is possible to somehow ‘sully’ a book by sharing segments of it, but how, in sharing it, I might accidentally decontextualise that part – share a piece of the cake that is all icing, or all jammy filling, so to speak. Kilea changes over time, both the character herself and the narrative voice to reflect her maturity, so I did worry that giving the intro paragraphs would set up expectations that could not be fulfilled.

Then I thought, well, I trust the reader’s intelligence. I trust the reader to like being surprised. To want development. To be a little heartbroken, to have all endings narrowed down to the one end that feels right. Or to have the ending left a little open, like a window that lets in the air of another place, cold and stirring. Which is what I want when I read, after all, beyond the poetry of the words.


This still hasn’t pinned down exactly why I post little bits of the novel, fragments of ideas, point to the images which will come to form the backdrop of The Millennial. Perhaps because, particularly before I had won the Unbound Press award, it warmed my heart to share what I felt I could of it with all of you. That seems a tad meagre, and I am sure there is more to it than that.

To those who share their words online, what is it you want to do? Is it for the act of sharing itself? Do you find sharing helps clarify things – how about the feedback you receive?



Filed under consolations of reading, consolations of writing, Theory

9 responses to “Methods – talking and not talking

  1. I love reading other people’s work. But it’s a tad hypocritical of me as the thought of sharing mine before it’s done, sends me running for the hills. Whenever I’ve done it in the past, I’ve let the air out of the balloon and have been left standing with a wobbly bit of limp rubber in my hand. It’s as if all of the energy has seeped out of the words. I wish it didn’t because I think getting some feedback would be beneficial, but alas.

    • I have heard of that phenomenon, that the momentum just goes for some people. I think I’d be nervous myself of knowing what to do with feedback I’d get if I posted a longer piece. Or if there was anything harsh said by an anonymous commenter (I’m a massive softie).

  2. CJ

    “The gift must stay in motion.”
    — Lewis Hyde from The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World

    I started blogging in November–not to share my WIP, or my first book, but to share. The writing prompt I gave myself was to to use the autobiographical core of my finished novel, and retell it from another perspective–briefer and more informative, though still my style.

    I was inspired to retell the fiction true by reading
    Are You Somebody? : The Accidental Memoir of a Dublin Woman by Nuala O’Faolain and My Dream of You, her fictionalized rendition of that memoir.

    The limitation of 1500 words a post and once a week timing was a thrill at first.
    Now I feel the need to double down on my WIP, so in the new year I’ll blog every other week instead of weekly.

    I know the site isn’t password protected, that many journals won’t consider publishing the pieces since I’ve in effect published them myself, but I don’t care. I consider them a gift, a necessary gift to repay my muse.

    As always I hope this makes sense. Something I am always trying to make.

    • I definitely understand and support the idea of art as something passed from one to another, and have had some thoughts on the ethics of accepting money/prizes for writing. Unable to fall on either side, as while I have principals, I would also love an audience for the novel. Sharing online can draw an audience, but sometimes only with a lot of self-promotion, which I can see you don’t engage in. I hope the words you write can disperse by their sheer power.

      Have you read Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? It’s apparently Jeanette Winterson’s more ‘truthful’ retelling of her fictionalised memoir, Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit.

      • CJ

        I loved Oranges, love Winterson’s poetic prose, and will read the memoir.

        To be clear, I want an audience, want to find an agent, want to publish traditionally. Want to be paid for my work. Have no problem with self-promotion, just a time issue. Hard to make work and do the work of promoting simultaneously. Plus I love my home-life.

        Anybody got some blog promotion tips I’d love to hear them.

      • I loved Oranges are Not The Only Fruit. I haven’t read anything by Winterson in so long, I wasn’t aware of Why Be Happy… I look forward to reading it. Thanks for this.

  3. macdougalstreetbaby

    I love what Stephen King writes about this. He says to keep the door shut and get the story down. Once that is accomplished, it’s time to share. I like that way of thinking because it keeps me on task. I don’t get sidetracked by what a reader may think. I enjoy blogging about the process, about the exploration, in the same way I enjoy reading about the paths others are taking but until I finish, my story is for my eyes only.

  4. CJ

    I agree MSB. I only share the novel in process with my writing group once a week, not the public. Yeast needs a warm dark place to rise.

  5. I started blogging years ago as a photographer, long before I ever thought about writing. When it came time to close up shop on my photography business, it seemed natural to begin a writing blog. Mine is more like a diary, aimless and formless, but in spite of the lack of purpose it’s brought me a circle of friends whom I also consider teachers.

    Until now, I’ve only shared finished stories. But last week I did post a scene from my WIP and hope to share more as time permits. The feedback has been really helpful.

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