Friday 19 November 2010

While the kid's away, the muse will play

It's been a while since I've written. Well, since I've written here. I've been busy being a kid and letting the inspiration flow in other streams of my consciousness.

Today is the final day of my write-a-thon for Children in Need. I signed up for it on a writers' forum I am part of and the challenge was set thus: November 1st to November 19th, write poems, flashes and short stories using a variety of prompts. I dedicated myself to posting one poem, story or flash every day. If not, how would it be a marathon of writing? The prompts varied from titles, words to be used, dialogue to be included and situations, themes and objects set. I didn't think I would find space and time in those nineteen days of my life to complete it, but I am glad to say that, posting my last write late last night (I know, how geeky, to cross the line before all others!) I fulfilled it. Some stories are better than others, some poems more poignant than others. I tried to accomplish a variety of themes and situations and use comedy, sadness, happiness, death, life and love as broadly as possible.

Something which happened to me during this process surprised and delighted me. Each night, before the write the next day, I would choose and set the prompt I was going to roll with. So, after writing the story The Break (prompt: location is a back alley; theme is hope; a lighter is a significant object) on November 12th, I immediately chose a prompt for November 13th. In that case it was Tell Me Later. That night, the connotations of the words, the situations in which they might be used, all the meanings these combinations could have started sprawling through my brain. What was incredible was how quickly I was able to let my mind wander, after a completely different creative process, into completely different directions. I realised that creativity is something that is living and breathing in us every day. And sometimes it only needs one little word to spill out...

This experience, while rewarding (and I've been raising money for the Children in Need from my kind friends and family as well) has also been an education. I have proved to myself that, even with time constraints, I can write most days around running, working and living. (Actually, they should be in reverse order!) But the bigger picture I see is that the muse is inside me, outside me, everywhere, everyday. These stories, flashes and poems have let me be my inner child again, putting pen to paper and seeing where the stories and words go. The other side of this coin has been interesting, too: putting a completely formed idea down on paper, keeping true to it until the end and then editing it into a readable piece of prose or poetry. Once I was on the tube on the way home from the office and I had to write down the opening paragraph there and then amongst the sports pages. When there is so much inspiration and ideas, you have to find a way to grab one and hold onto it. It's no wonder so many writers sleep with a pad and pen by their bedside. It's cold when you have to get up in the darkness and search for them to get that phrase, title, line down concretely.

Anyway, so now I am free from my write-a-thon, I must stand by the words here and continue letting my muse work its way onto the computer screen in written form. I must let my childish tendencies to play with words and situations be allowed to run riot. And I must keep trying to find an audience.

Invention is all part of a kid's world. For the last nineteen days, I've been there; inventing, concocting and discovering. There has been the pressure of deadline, meeting a personal target, and it's important to remember that. Keeping the flow means movement and when you write, this only happens through time and to time. The result is in the process.

It's not child's play, but it does keep writer's block at bay.

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