I want to share details of how I wrote a poem recently, bringing several aspects of my writing life together. The idea for the poem started with a workshop I was doing for the WEA in Weston Super Mare.
I was intrigued reading some of the visual arts, students and tutors, writing about the materials and techniques at their disposal. It made me realise that all the writer has is very little in comparison: words and nothing more. We can splash them across the page, join them into sentences, paragraphs, lines, stanzas, novellas, chapters, scripts; or we can sound them out at performances, readings, and online, visually and orally.
October is Black History Month and I am not black. And as far as I know, the OCA has no black Creative Writing Tutors. So how do we write about Black History Month?
Content-wise flash fiction, however short, will have a narrative arc while flash poetry will catch a moment with maybe implied narrative. In fact, flash poetry will have more in common with a photograph than with a piece of prose.
I guess all good writing like all successful visual art has to start with observation. Maybe, that’s too sweeping because sometimes we might start with imagination. But I would still maintain that imagination has to feed on observation.
Getting the child’s voice right in writing for children is easier than using a child narrator, or child’s eye view in free indirect discourse when writing for adults. If you have a child narrator in adult fiction, you have to decide if the narrator is looking back with hindsight or whether they are pretending to still be the child they were. There are plenty of examples of both of these approaches and some narratives that fall between the two extremes.
Join OCA tutor Liz Cashdan on the 19 November in Bristol.
“Online teaching gives the tutor time to read and think deeply about the student’s assignment, none of which is possible in a workshop.”
In the news recently, Anthony Horowitz reveals that his editor has warned him off writing a black character into his next book. As he comments, that would be a pity, because if he only wrote characters that he represented himself, he would be restricted to 62 year-old white, male, Jewish men living in London!
A good many students look upon the Reflective Commentary as a nasty trap set by module writers and tutors to catch writing students unawares….
How far should our writing be political, social, polemical? That’s a tough question for all creative writers whatever their genre. If we’re writing about people, places, events we can’t really avoid any of these even if they are not among our prime intentions.
Whatever our specialisms, as writers, visual artists and musicians, we should all be indebted to John Berger for his strong and thought-provoking ideas. I particularly like the way he called himself a listener and a storyteller.