Monday, July 26, 2010


Whirling dervishes or Darveshes, Rumi Fest 2007.Image via Wikipedia

Dear You--

As I may have mentioned, I’m a member of various writing groups as a consequence of a friend of mine, a certain retired Marine colonel, kicking me in the butt and saying: “You’ve got to network, Victor.” Since I was brought up in a culture which abhors self-promotion  (“Just not done, old chap!) this transition has come hard, but here is a current  extract from a discussion group called BookLink on Linkedin.

Moderator: Do you find writing therapeutic? (We have ways of making you write)

Victor O’Reilly: (I'm new at this networking stuff - so positively no jokes). Writing is a decision making process and you have to train your mind to think that way or it's a decidedly stressful occupation. On the other hand, if you develop the necessary disciplines - something that takes years of practice (just as in music) then the mere sight of a keyboard will bring you into ‘The Zone’ - a state which is extraordinarily therapeutic. Then, of course, Windows crashes and you turn into a Whirling Dervish.

I would like to add that I find typing into Linkedin's narrow Comment box a right, royal pain, particularly as one cannot edit a comment once posted. Software people, who rarely write anything other than code, and who have Pizza warped minds, don't seem to get this stuff. But, I digress - and shall now slide gracefully back into the Zone.

Linda WatsonVictor, you've really cheered me up - how many years does it take before the mere sight of keyboard gets you 'into the zone'? If it's less than thirty, I might just get there!! At the moment, I'm finding that I agree with Chris - greatly challenging and at times even soul destroying, but never therapeutic or cathartic. But then I don't consider myself to be a 'writer' - (I thought that real writers got pleasure from the process). I'm just someone who has written a couple of books.

PS I've just edited this within 14 minutes - have they put it back, then?

Victor O'ReillyLinda, "a couple of books" sounds like real writing to me. As I suspect we all know, the only way to really learn how to write is to write. In my case, I decided that I wouldn't agonize over the perfect word or phrase but instead would focus on getting my muscle memory working . A classic tool for this purpose is a journal, but instead I chose letters to a former girlfriend who I had first met in 1972. I don't think my letters started until the early Nineties, but I do know I woke up one day and found I had gained a facility for the written word that I had lacked before. That doesn't mean I'm claiming to be a good writer. That is for others to judge. It does mean that that I have become very comfortable with my craft and am now trying to raise the bar in terms of style, and plotting, and sheer readability. I don't expect to ever quite achieve my objectives, but the journey is truly food for the soul. When I write, which is every day, I'm a truly happy man. Of course, a downside of such a situation is that one's loved ones get jealous because they suspect that my one true passion, whatever  be the truth of it, isn't for them. Of course, I may be making all of this up, but I can tell you that getting into the Zone - into a state of flow - shouldn't take thirty years. So now break out those old address books, and find a former lover, and set to work.

Zounds! Once posted, my entries seem to remain un-editable so I guess you will have to live with my crude first draft. My apologies to one and all. I guess I'll have to write in Word in future and cut and paste AFTER editing. I'm told some people can produce a perfect draft first time, but I'm decidedly not one of those lucky people.

Linda WatsonBut what if one doesn't have a former lover, Victor .......

Victor O'Reilly: (What a truly mind-boggling thought!). Linda, your not having a former lover defies credulity (forgive me, I'm a European) but fortunately literary license covers near every eventuality: Invent one. The real thing can be a lot of trouble.

So now you know how us creative folks while away these long hot days.

Farewell for the moment. Write soon. I miss your wit and your company.


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1 comment:

  1. Be careful with this networking stuff. It can become addicting, but also, quite pointless. If writing is a creative process one must wonder how much creativity we have? Is creativity infinite? I doubt it. Some writers run up against the empty creativity glass quite early. Others later, but there does seem to be a finite amount of this gold, which is what makes it valuable. Just my experience, and yours may differ greatly.