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Honoria Plum – Another Nice Find

Victoria Madden has written a lovely piece about discovering Plumtopia (and Ashokbhatia ) at her Moulders Lane blog. I was so delighted, I had to share it here. If you can read it whilst sipping tea on the lawn, even better.

Moulders Lane

I got into blogging almost by accident: I was writing a book and it occurred to me – I still don’t know how, I’m a complete techno-idiot – that putting my ideas online would help me get a better perspective on what I was writing.  After many diversions I ended up with three, inter-related blogs: one of which you are now reading.

When someone actually posted a (very nice) comment on an article I’d written here that mentioned P. G. Wodehouse, I had a feeling of slight alarm.  I spent two or three months looking at it doubtfully, then took the plunge and rather gingerly added it to my post. More time passed.

It finally occurred to me to wonder who this person from the Internet was who’d left such an astute and gratifying comment – and more particularly, how they’d found my post.  I followed the link like Alice…

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4 Comments

  1. Thank you so much for re-blogging this! – and for your nice comment.

    You mention the fear of showing your writing to anyone; something that held me back for many years too. Eventually I ended up in a job where I was analysing and commenting on academic research proposals, and suggesting ways in which they could be improved, and this taught me to be completely objective about a piece of writing, and Writing in general.

    If you’ve truly written something good, you’ll Know. The piece will sing in its rightness and you will have an immense sense of satisfaction. It won’t matter what anyone else thinks. If you have doubts, try and work out what those doubts are centred on. ‘It might not be any good’ in what sense? Is it badly expressed? Does your central idea not come across well? Is the dialogue weak or stilted? Are you aiming too high for your current level of technical competence? Do you need to practice your skills with different forms of writing? Have you decided on a niche without first exploring where your natural bent will best express itself?

    I struggled for years to be a novelist. I could write amusing dialogue and little scenes and the odd telling phrase, but when I tried to string it all together it was awkward and stilted. One day a friend showed much a script he’d written after doing a script-writing workshop. I thought it looked like a fun thing to do and went on one myself. I found I’d gone from struggling near the bottom of the class to having an instinctive understanding of how to get my character’s backstory into the opening lines; gave up on novel-writing and started focusing on script-writing workshops instead. It doesn’t stop a tiny part of me wishing I could write like that, whenever I read a really good book, but I know now, without doubts or regrets, that I should no longer try.

  2. From HP’s comment at Moulders Lane – ‘Victoria, I think we are similar in many ways. I don’t think I am really a novelist, but have fallen into the trap of thinking that to be a writer, that’s what I should do. I notice in your recent blog post you mentioned that you were writing a book. Is it non fiction or have you returned to fiction?’

    Non-fiction; see ‘About’ on http://reimaginingwarrington.wordpress.com

    I suspect many aspiring writers get sucked into the same mindset and then struggle and give up when they should just think about a different area of writing. I think for a lot of people novels, especially serious novels, are the upper echelon of writing and anything else a poor second (cf Wodehouse being filed under ‘humour’ in the bookshop you mentioned).

    But, again, I think a lot of it’s confidence too. I’ve been told I can write well by people with experience of assessing good writing and most of my jobs have involved either writing stuff myself or analysing other people’s writing in various formats. I’ve also done a lot of workshops in various formats. I know when I’ve written something well or when it’s not what it should be and whether someone’s criticism of it is justified or not. I’ve learnt to see my writing as something I produce but that, once ‘signed off’, is something separate from myself.

    It sounds from what you write as if you’re too afraid of being told you can’t write. This is nonsense – you clearly can write and write well. If you’re not showing your stuff to people who know what they’re talking about and getting their feedback (you don’t have to agree with it or even act on it) then you’re not going to get the confidence you seem to need. You’ve mastered article writing very successfully; novel writing is just a different format that needs to be mastered equally. Put it aside for a while; try a children’s story, try a play, try a poem. It’s still writing.

    A novel is not the be all and end all of a writer’s craft.

    I seem, however, to be taking your novel-writing abilities at your own valuation. I’m quite prepared to believe you’re sitting on a masterpiece, riddled by self-doubt.

  3. honoria plum says:

    So much food for thought here, Victoria. I will read this at greater length and digest — but for now, just a quick note of thanks. I’m so thrilled that you took the time and trouble to stop, read, and respond.

    • Dear Honoria,

      I’ve been considering some of the questions you’ve had on writing, and my own answers, and I’ve put together a blog post on my experiences of writing at http://www.moulderslane.wordpress.com which may help to clarify your own situation. Or, if nothing else, amuse you.

      Please forgive the implied arrogance of the title – no one’s going do a Google search using ‘thoughts on writing’.

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