Write for the joy of it baby!

We chose it. We want it. We can’t be doing without it. We wake up in the night or early in the morning with ideas spinning. We pace like tigers when kept from it by normal life. We do it.

And on days when all our stars are in alignment, when the keys to our subconscious have been turned, our fingers fly on the keyboard or our pencil scratchings make a frantic rhythm on paper, when we are surprised by ourselves, by the marvel of the humanity we write about, it is a wonderful, a joyful thing.

There’s so much talk now of being published, of rejections, submissions, of word count, of writer’s block and muses doing a runner, of not being able to find the space, the place, the time, the rhyme, the reason, it being the wrong season.

I wrote lately on my blog for Writing.ie about finding the book that YOU want to write, about finding the things that fire you up, that you gather and adore, that make you hot under the collar, of finding the hot coil in the furnace of the way YOU see the world and brandishing it, making your marks on the page, your brand (not the marketing one!) on the skin of our culture.

Write for the joy of it, for yourself firstly, then for a reader, someone intimate your book will sit close with later, you will tell them the way you see the world, humanity and they may sit head bent close to yours, to your book and understand or see something new or different they had never thought of before. Or you may reflect something back to them that is dear and intrinsic and spark of the joy of recognition in them.

Whether it’s Marc Nash‘s feats of erudition and word love, or Penny Goring’s unparalleled linguistic gymnastics, or the sparkling characterizations and life in a moment of Tania Hershman, Claire King, Martha Williams, A.J Ashworth, or the lovingly crafted slices of humanity of Rebecca Emin, Jane Rusbridge, DJ Young or the startlingly slightly surreal and fabulous creations of Rachel Carter, Kirsty Logan and Elizabeth Baines; these writers demonstrate to me through their work, and by presenting it to us in such a marvellous manner, the intrinsic joy of language, of creativity, of humanity and the world itself.

Like you all I get fed up of it. Sometimes writing is like the holy grail. To get to it at all, I need to negotiate the jungle of domestic life, climb mountains of tiredness and self-defeat.  But I want to remember the moments when a idea flashes, when a juxtaposition of words seems just right, (like when I came up with the title Origami Flamingos for one of my flashes!) when a story makes sense, the accumulated moments later when it lives and lingers and means something to others. I don’t know what else to say. We must stop sometimes and try to remember the spark, why we cannot walk away.

The Soul’s Re-education – who’s writing do you love?

Fuel for the soul

I will never be a literary critic. I say Wow. I say Yes. I feel a resonance inside, a plucked guitar string, light shifting, I find myself holding my breath. I feel a flicker of an idea, consciousness swirling, a pulse of feeling, a glimpse of memory that sets me ready to try to say…..something, something that might in turn touch and inspire others or provide them with a reflection of their emotions, or show them a new way of looking at the world.

Who are the writer’s that refill the well for you?

The last decade for me has been a decade of what I call ‘mud’. Not in a negative sense but in a hands-on, practical, prosaic, down in the thick of things kind of way. I have given birth to and raised four children with all the nappies and puree and wiping down and tidying up and cajoling and physical helping and emotional steering that that entailed. Something has to give, sometimes its ‘air’, what’s up there, the things that take us out of ourselves, music, words, exercise, theatre, new places, silence. The children are older now, the tiny baby stage has passed. I am about to start a new decade in age too. I want to begin to refuel in all the other things that I haven’t been able to get to. I still have the physical, the hugs, the squeaky noses, the lifting, the holding, the toddler insisting he can only be happy lying cheek to cheek with me but I want the breath as well, a little bit more than before.

This means catching up on old music videos I have never seen, bands that I hear fleetingly in the car between pickups but never hear the name of. It means, perhaps DVD box sets or catching re-runs of shows I missed like Madmen, The Mighty Boosh, The West Wing. It means getting to more music shows, more theatre, more galleries. (Even if its only 1 more!). And it means books and authors.

These are the books currently on my bedside table or in a tall pile beside it.

They are by writers who were recommended to me by others or are people that I have enjoyed in the past and want to continue to become more familiar with their work. In particular since I have begun to write so many short stories I have also become a voracious reader of short story collections.

  • Hanif Kureshami: The Body (Already in awe!)
  • J.G. Ballard: Kingdom Come
  • A.S Byatt: Possession
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Memories of My Melancholy Whores
  • Nabokov: Collected stories (His work is a wonderful revelation!)
  • Jeannette Winterson: The Stone Gods
  • Annie Proulx: Brokeback Mountain and Other Stories
  • Adam Foulds The Quickening Maze
  • Virginia Woolf: The Waves, To the Lighthouse
  • John Steinbeck: The Pearl, Sweet Thursday, The Wayward Bus
  • Ivy Bannister: The Magician (short stories)
  • Paul Durkan: Life is a Dream: 40 years reading poetry – 1967-2007
  • Sylvia Plath’s: Collected Poems

These are books I have enjoyed most in the past few years and highly recommend.

  • What was Lost: Catherine O’ Flynn
  • The Accidental and Hotel World: Ali Smith
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera: Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • To a God Unknown, Grapes of Wrath: John Steinbeck
  • The Gathering: Anne Enright
  • Postcards, The Shipping News: Annie Proulx
  • Map of Glass: Jane Urquart
  • The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet by Reif Larsen (An event of a book, great illustrations, notes in the margins. Beautiful to hold.)

Short Stories

  • How to Breathe Underwater: Julie Orringer
  • Constitutional: Helen Simpson
  • Lorrie Moore: The Collected Stories
  • A.S. Byatt: Little Black Book of Stories

I also hope to become acquainted with the stories of Raymond Carver and to read the first two available stories from The Chaos Walking Trilogy (teen fiction) by Patrick Ness The Knife of Never Letting Go and The Ask and the Answer.

Help me with my re-education, my filling up of the soul and the well of inspiration.

Who are your favourite authors? What are your favourite books? Do you have any recommendations for us of authors we should become acquainted with? Are you an author we should become acquainted with? Let me know in the comments. Add in your favourite band and TV show too if you feel it deserves attention. Hopefully we can share some gems.