Let my writing go – an odd thought!

It’s quite understandable when people write in their stereotypical garrets, afraid to let their writing “fly” – I don’t mean making a paper aeroplane out of them and hurling them out of the window… sorry for being facetious… but to be read in the public arena, as it were. The advent (hardly nowadays I guess) of online publishing has changed that to quite a degree – the world and its wife are bloggers nowadays – but there is a certain tension, fear, excitement and apprehension about showing your written work.

With my previous stints in editing and script reading, I sort of know what it’s like on both sides of the fence. Films are my blind spot, although I can imagine the intensity of the impact that others will have on your writing.

(OK, for the following, you’re going to have to imagine your writing as your kid. A writing project is often referred to as a labour of love, so not too hard to picture, right?)

Editing prose and so on seems to me, then, like sending your kid to have a hair cut or getting new shoes. Obviously they look different, but erm… you should recognise them. Just little changes here and there for the house style and what-have-you but still blatantly them.

The development of plays and so forth is like sending your kid to a nursery or primary school – they get to muck around , play with other people and basically learn through the act of “doing”. Parents can come in and help with certain things (blatantly to make sure that their kid hasn’t aged 20 years and is promptly going around the world on business within the few hours that she/he stays there), so you can keep track of how she/he is doing. I love being present at rehearsals and it’s great to see how your writing develops.

From what I can gather with film, it’s like leaving your teen at a university, with a few props for them to remember you by. You then anxiously cling to social media updates and frequently check on them online to see them smashing hotel rooms, recording odd tracks (not in *our* day!) in garage band and posting statements in odd flavours under the guise of “banter”.

Writing Britain – the creme da le creme!

I was very fortunate to get my ticket on the last week it was being shown at the British Library – it’s one of those things that I would get round to buying if I had enough time, and impulsively picked a day and went straight to Euston Square.

The exhibition showcases so many writing displays in different formats – from manuscripts to video clips and voice recordings of writers past and present. What’s amazing about these manuscripts is that you get a more personal feel that is rarely since well… the printing press. If only I’d studied graphology – seeing how personality has often been analysed through writing. You can normally hear volumes how writers select their words (through our eyes of course – not going Barthes on you guys yet) but when you see what they’ve chosen over certain other words that they may have scribbled in the corners, or even grammatical errors that they’ve created, some the same as me – it creates a bond between you and the writer to see art in that raw unedited form. I couldn’t suppress a gasp when I was reading Blake’s manuscript of London to find a rough version of Tyger Tyger in the corner (I know, gasping in a library! I live dangerously).

Separated into all sorts of sections – the city, the seaside, the country and the wilderness – all these concepts where British Literature has flourished with peppered each corner, even with recordings and manuscripts of Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath side by side. This was also punctuated with photographs and video montages, making the whole sensory feast complete. All the big guns are shown, from Chaucer to Dickens to Woolf to Robert Louis Stephenson to Kurieshi to Lewis Carroll to Shakespeare to the Romantic poets and Ballard as just a few examples. Can’t wait to see what else the British Library has to offer this year!