Thursday, 13 December 2007

Right words and lost words

I'm back from my residential writing week at an Arvon centre. Been back since Saturday morning actually. So why no posting? Two things: one, I was a way for a week so had a whole load of work to catch up on, not to mention reconnecting with my family. Two, trying to find the 'right words'. Felt a bit lost for them this week. People keep asking me 'What was it like?' And I can tell them what we did on a day-to-day basis and that I 'wrote lots of stuff'. But it's harder to explain what happened in terms of how my writing, my thoughts on my writing and me as a writer have been changed by my experience. It was huge though. So maybe 'huge' will have to be the right word.

What I can say unreservedly is that I recommend an Arvon residential to anyone writing or wanting to write. The tutors were amazing and the accommodation and setting was wonderful.

'Intense' - another right word, but intense in a good way like a strongly infused flavour or a flavour-infused memory.

I have returned with huge enthusiasm for my novel. Not least the fact that I can say or write the words my novel, without putting them in inverted commas. I've got lots of writing to do. One of the tutors told us we would write 100,000 words that we would not use in the final draft. I found this depressing until I realised that most of the 10,000 or so words that I have written so far probably won't end up in my final draft, but they are vital to what I will write and will use. They will not be lost.

Just spent a couple of very productive hours in the library - another thing I learned from my week away is that trying to write at my computer desk isn't great - as a freelancer that is where I do my work. So all of my associations with that space are work related. I found sitting in the library a really good way to write unencumbered with thoughts of emails and invoices (and it saved me a morning's worth of heat and light at home!)

Ok, enuff, back to the scribbling (think I will try the kitchen table - good light and a comfy chair -but a nagging feeling that I should be washing up, cooking, sweeping underneath - may have to go back to the library)

A place and a space and freedom to think- more right words


CTaylor said...

The course sounds wonderful in a "you sound quite gobsmacked by it" kind of way!

Wow that 100,000 figure is pretty high! When I edited my novel I ended up cutting 10,000 words which I was slightly horrified by but it wasn't too bad in the end as the final word count was above 80,000 words. Must make sure to aim for 100,000+ words in the next novel (as I'm bound to end up chopping loads out again!)

steve-n said...

It was a great week, and as you say Sarah, very intense, what with so many interesting people in a confined space.

Have you got the "marzipan" story kicking around? I'd really like to read it.

Sarah Dunnakey said...

I'm hoping he was just trying to scare us with the 100,000 figure, either that or he was including a lot of the back story stuff that gets written about characters but not used.

Me I would be happy just to have written 100,000 words at this point - still only 90,000 to go

Sarah Dunnakey said...

Hi Steve

You know I didn't even mention the people aspect of the residential in my blog - another case of not being able to find the right words.

It was part of the amazingness of it all though. Working together on the kitchen rota, producing the anthology, and the spirit of the workshops where we shared our work in its rawest form, all contributed to the feeling of trust,understanding and support on the last night when we read our finished pieces. Unbeatable stuff.

SpiralSkies said...

Until last week, I'd never heard of Arvon courses. Now, though, I'm chancing upon more and more info. All sounds fascinating.

Like Cally, I'm mildly horrified by that 100k figure!

Ooh, I'm sooooo going to have to book myself in! Would live to hear more about it when you find the words :)