When I was invited to write an article for this wonderful magazine, I immediately checked up on what others had wrote about the chosen subject of writing. It wasn’t until I was reading the article by Eliezer Sobel, a prize winning novelist, that I suddenly thought, ‘Am I qualified enough to write about writing?’
I have no qualifications in any aspect of writing. Nothing of note to speak of in that area, I’m afraid. However, my debut novel came out last year and my second is due for release in the summer, and I lock myself away for three hours a day talking to myself, and occasionally writing it down, so I’ve got to be as nutty as the rest of you that have taken this game up, haven’t I?
I’ve chosen something I’m doing at the moment between books, to talk about. So here goes…
Everyone who wants to be published writes for the same reason. Oh yes you do. You might love writing, get a thrill out of reading what you produce, an even bigger rush writing that first draft, or crave the escapism writing gives in abundance. But if you have, or do, send your baby out into the world to be read, you’re looking for a pat on the back. You can dress it up any way you like, but it is the truth. Every one of us would love people to read our story and say, ‘Jesus Christ this is it. You’ve hit the big time. You’re a literary genius, not only that, my old pal, it’s a commercial blockbuster, get on a diet quick we’re going to
How much we want this is another matter. Some will swear that they are tortured minds and are dragged to the keyboard by an unknown force and are unable to stop themselves pouring out bestsellers – they are special. And also complete liars. Others are more honest and write for a market, trying to punt their wares to the highest bidder. Whatever your reason, if we the public know about it, you’re after the adulation – and there’s nothing wrong in that.
So here’s the thing. How can anyone know that they’re writing their best if they’re not writing what they want and how they want? How can you know it’s your best if you haven’t the foggiest what your best is? Until you write for you, and no one else, you will never write your best or know just how good a writer you are.
When I wrote my first novel, I learnt so much about writing and re-wrote it at least ten times. I learnt about structure, characterisation, plot, all the stuff that you need to know about, but that slows the fun down. In the end, the book came out fantastic, (blow one’s own trumpet, why don’t you?) but I don’t consider it to be my best. My hands were tied in certain aspects and I was working to a plot and there were only glimpses of me really letting go. My second book I wrote with a free mind and free hand. There was no holding back and it’s my pride and joy. I know it’s the best I’ll ever write. No semi-colons, no italics and only 165 pages. No research, popcorn fiction, simply having a good time. It’s with the editors at the minute so I’m expecting a battle to keep it just the way I want it, but I’m up for the challenge!
I’m busy writing a story now, based on two characters, which I know for certain will never, ever be read by anyone other than me. And, let me tell you, the freedom is unreal. You can say what you like, the way you like, get so far into the characters and go off on as many tangents as you care to. You can be as bad as you like or as heroic as you want to be, but one thing you get from this type of writing is imagination. Imagination running wild for days with nowhere to go other than a page ahead, and before you know it, you’ve banged five thousand words out and are having the time of your life.
And who knows where it might end up? You could write your way into a character or a situation you’d never thought possible, and something could grow from there. With no one else viewing it, you can go as deep as you want with thoughts, without being worried about what others will think. Free writing unlocks everything for you, but it can’t be done unless you’re completely honest with yourself and write knowing that you won’t be showing the final piece to anyone. I compare it to when I passed my driving test at seventeen. “Feed-the-wheel, feed-the-wheel,” the driving instructor demanded, but all I wanted to do was wheel-spin in the street and have a good time. Free writing is wheel-spinning. It’s so much fun and it could get you to produce your best ever work. I know what I’m saying isn’t revolutionary, but when was the last time you tried it?
Gary Davison’s debut novel Fat Tuesday was published last year by PaperBooks.
This is what he says about himself:
Writes, reads, runs, gyms, golfs, gambles, red wine, chocolate, Chinese, The Post Office, The Great Gatsby, A Clockwork Orange, To Kill a Mockingbird, Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas, Amsterdam, Vernon God Little, Papillion, House, Dexter, The Sopranos, PrisonBreak, Boxing, Newcastle United, the wife, the daughter, Sydney, France, Sydney, Newcastle, Sydney.
Visit Gary's website here.
For a printed edition of this article go here.