|Only known color photograph|
of the author, Leo Tolstoy,
taken in 1908 by
- Tolstoy has already written War and Peace. Proust has already written Remembrance of Things Past.
- It took Proust 14 years to write the 7 volumes of his novel.
- War and Peace is filled with seriously big-league subjects and has hundreds of characters, but Tolstoy didn’t consider it to be a novel, so much as a work of philosophy.
- People are drawn to the small things in life. This is where fiction often gains supremacy over non-fiction. By keeping things local, personal, focused and tight you gain the reader’s attention, their empathy and identity. By concentrating on the particular, you can, by symbol, example and theme, subtly examine the larger issues. After all, Remembrance of Things Past focuses on a biscuit dipped in tea.
- Maybe you are destined to write this ‘idea of your lifetime’. But if you actively seek it out and attempt to write it at the first stage of your writing life, it will not be the achievement it might become if you begin by honing your skills as a published writer.
- First writings are the ones that are most likely not to be published…or even publishable. Most new writers have pushed many ideas, half-written and unfinished, into a bottom drawer before they see their name on a contract.
- Proust himself said… The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes…It is quite likely that your ‘idea of a lifetime’ may actually be discovered when you are writing the inconsequential, the everyday, the ordinary. The trick is to see these things with ‘new eyes’.
- Go to your kitchen drawer. If you have many, chose the one most in need of a tidy! If you can’t use a kitchen drawer, chose something that is filled with a jumble of haphazard, random items…office desk, old vase, glove compartment.
- Take out every item. Look through them, and chose one that draws your attention.
- Make a list of the practical uses this item might be used for.
- Make a list of things this item could be no practical use for whatsoever.
- Put your first list to one side and concentrate on the second. Chose one impractical use from your list. For instance, from a desk drawer, a paperclip cannot be used as a boat.
- Think about a way this item could actually be employed in any of the items on the second list.
- Let freewriting take your imagination take you on a spree as you put this item to an ingenious use – let you over. For instance, you could straighten the paper clip, stick a square of paper through it and push it into a piece of cork. This could be used a child’s toy boat.
- Okay, you’ve got the implausible and impossible out of the way. And you’ve had some fun
- Now return to the first list.
- Remembering how you had to stretch your mind to ‘see’ that second list and write about it, choose an item on the first list
- Try to follow Proust’s advice and… have new eyes…as you work on this idea