Monday, 14 November 2011

Lost In The Forest

Before I begin to write I always have to undergo a minor transformation, a kind of alchemy in which I put aside my everyday persona and take on my writer's persona. It takes a certain amount of time and there are a number of little rituals to go through. Anyone looking at me would think I was just fiddling about, wasting time, putting off the business of getting down to work; but I'm not.

When I first started writing I was working full time as a teacher, then coming home each evening to play with my daughters and to help put them to bed. So there was very little spare time. I used to write for an hour a night and no more. Even so, a proportion of that hour had to be given over to the process of metamorphosis that reminded me who I really was and, in doing so, allowed me to write.

After many years in which I could write every day I am now looking after my grandson two days a week and working in a university two days a week. So time is once again in very short supply. Nevertheless, I can't just sit down and write whenever I find myself with a spare moment. There has to be that ritual separation from my everyday self.

I think that no-one really grows up. We pretend to do so because that's what the world expects. There are jobs to be done, rent and mortgages to pay, meals to be cooked, rooms to be tidied, responsibilities to be faced up to; but inside each of us we carry a bewildered but curious child who doesn't really understand how the world works yet is determined to keep trying until he finds out.

Oddly enough, that's the part of your self you have to get in touch with in order to write because being efficient, organised, competent and capable isn't enough. You face the blank page like a child who is lost in the forest. First you sit down and wail. Then when the wailing is done, you start to crawl.

4 comments:

Derek said...

Brian, I think that's a first rate description of the writing process! Do you find, with renewed time constraints, that those limitations make you more creative rather than less? I recall once reading that the secret of magic was limitation.

Brian Keaney said...

I think that's absolutely right, Derek. I love that comment about magic.

Rhys Ethan said...

Spill the beans Mr. Brian! What are your rituals? Might need to do them myself, considering how distractions overcrowd my mind and crawl all over me every time I write

Brian Keaney said...

HI Rhys. It's simple - I sit down at nine o'clock and work until five with an hour off for lunch.