What is it about teaching writing and actually writing?
It pins you down to the real nuts and bolts of the craft – positioning you as a writer at a certain angle of the theorists and crafters. Rather like voting, you stand alongside a philosophical positioning through an admiration for personality or deed, writerly approach or book.
But like applying literary criticism to your favourite novel, this has the initial effect of temporarily alienating you from the very thing that drives you. I say temporarily because writing, this thing that drives you, is something that will never take on the position of being “other” or being the alien a writer’s life. Even when you want it to.
It sets you off course, alarmingly so.
And yet, in talking about writing, approaches to writing, and planning and laughing our way through ideas and short snippets of writing, the act itself is nurtured. I have more half-finished paragraphs and random words in my notebooks these days than when I was full-on writing.
But that is just it, isn’t it? The cycle of a writer’s life. And really, it is no bad thing returning to the starting line, reminding ourselves of simple and complex sentence structure, the importance of grounded, believable characterisation, the excitement of starting a new piece of work.
Indeed, as writers we are always returning to the starting line with each new work. Halloween and Day of the Dead are nearly upon us. It’s time for me to return and become engrossed in the never-ending dilemmas of writing. With notebooks, of course, in hand.
Oh, and congratulations to Michael D Higgins – the new President of Ireland – a master of words and creating worlds himself!