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I have a folder in my computer and its name is ‘One Story Many Voices – Workshop’. When I open it up and look inside, it is has lots of files that follow this format:
Ex.n – Assignment.doc
Ex.n – Submission.doc
Scanning down the list I see there are Thriller, Suspense, Literary, Humour, Historical, Western Fantasy, Paranormal, Sci-Fi, Horror, and with two weeks of the workshop still to go, there is many more to come.
It’s a surprising list because each file represents a story written in each genre based on an original idea, and up until now, I’d only written in three of those genres: Literary, Thriller and to a much smaller extent (although it did see publication) Paranormal.
This raises some important questions for me, questions such as, am I holding myself back by concentrating on fiction within mainly the literary and thriller genres? Am I preventing the full creative force of my imagination from unleashing itself by not further exploring these genres, after all, I can never now say, “but I’ve never written anything in that genre before – I don’t know what I’m doing.”
Thanks to this workshop, I’ll never be able to say that again.
I’m starting to see now that with each assignment I’m not only opening up doors to new writing possibilities, but closing down the path of the easy road where creative restriction lies.
It’s a bold realisation and quite a lot to take in. Think of it this way: faced with all the directions of the compass, Christopher Columbus finally chose one way to start off on his adventure before discovering America. I’m already well into my adventure, but which way for me now? And is finding America what it’s all about? That’s too deep but the point remanis that for the past few years I’ve had two or three well trodden routes that I’ve relied on for my stories. Now, though, I’m feeling a desire to turn around and walk down some of the new, less well known routes to see what new and different kinds of ideas are there.
But then there is the other side of the coin. Would opening myself up to anything take me back in time? When I first started writing I wrote a lot of different types of stories and eventually made a conscious decision to stick to what I enjoyed (and seemed to be better at) “most”, which was Crime, Thrillers and recently the Paranormal. I saw it as a way of concentrating on one sole direction to get maximum benefit from it, of focussing all my drive in the one direction to stand a better chance of publication.
My conclusion is that I had to go down the road I took at the time and so made the correct decision. It was a necessary thing to do in order to improve my craft and prove to myself that I could be dedicated. Maybe now, with the things I’m learning in this workshop, I can start thinking wider and broader and using what I’m picking up from an excellent teacher, to not so much improve my chances of publication, but to get more satisfaction and pleasure from the act of writing and of creating new worlds, new characters – new stories.
You can probably tell that there is a lot churning through my mind just now concerning my work. It feels healthy, though, and it feels right to be thinking about these things now. One Story, Many Voices has pulled the rug from me somewhat, but in a good way.
Coffee and Laughs
My wee-est (?) sister was through working in Edinburgh yesterday so I met her for a coffee after work. We met at Costa Coffee on Hanover Street and enjoyed a couple of large cappuccinos and muffins, a long chat and a laugh (no Shreks this time – private joke) before going out separate ways.
Back home and I worked on my new short story for the workshop and Gail’s new website in equal amounts. It’s very close to going live now – I think we could be looking at this weekend sometime, which would probably be Sunday. It’s up to the boss, though – she can decide.
While working I tuned into Vic Galloway’s show on BBC Radio Scotland for the first time purely because a live session with Mogwai had been advertised. I wish I’d discovered it sooner; a decent DJ who knows what he’s talking about and plays decent music by proper bands at all levels. A great show and by the end of it I’d been given a shout out by Vic twice! I suppose that means I’ll have to listen to the show every week now – bummer. 🙂
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Your self-questioning is just what I hoped to provoke from students in the class!
I think it’s great to have a favorite genre in which to work, but if that’s the only way to work, you start to get into a rut. Even if you’re very good at it, sometimes you stop growing. Or you start losing confidence that you can do anything else.
The point is that, with strong characters and story-telling skills, you can work in ANY genre, once you learn its protocols. And you can shift from genre to genre or to combine them, thereby following anything that catches your interest.
Thanks Devon. The course is certainly making me analyse myself as well as flexing my writing muscles in new genres.