Sunday, 27 June 2010

linking up a web of creativity

A student recently wrote to me, towards the end of her course work. This is what she wrote...
Through the first part of the course I thought about my finished stories like a hierarchy of pieces of work. I suppose I judged them as a list of titles with the best at the top and worst at the bottom. A liner system that reminds me of my experience of learning at school. Now it feels like all the stories and poems are spread out on a web or ecosystem that keeps growing. They are all valuable. It’s not all about which one is better than the other. They are all interconnected. They contain tools and craft and experience and all have a positive experience in the evolution of my writing.
This feels much more of a comfortable process to work with in and one that can be continually added to in the future. This web also expands to contain all of my other types of creative work. Having an understanding of an ever-growing web also make it easier to give my stories to other people to read, which I have started to do, instead of keeping them all to my immediate family and myself. This, I am finding, is a very valuable experience...
What wise words! It would do us all good to think about our collections of creative writing in this way. We should consider every single piece as ‘grist to the mill’ – a widening and growing understanding of how we’re developing as a writing, everything linked; everything essential. Part of that ‘web of creation’ my student talked about.

And, even if, on finishing something new, we decide to put it away because it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, or because it doesn’t feel ‘up to standard’, that doesn’t mean that later on we can’t return to it. We may come back with a fresh approach, or renewed vigour and tackle this piece in such a way it becomes valuable within the collection.
With this in mind, look at my Exercise of the Week. Would this be an onerous task for you as a writer? Or would it be something that might stimulate and energise you? You may find that it’s actually an enjoyable activity...that the old stuff you put away years ago as juvenilia, is, with the hindsight of experience, something you can revamp or learn from.