I finally started Tess of the D’Urbervilles and I’m so happy I got around to it. I’ve spent several hours deeply embedded within the rhythmic flow of his sentences, basking in the brilliance of the use of his language. After reading Return of the Native over and over again as part of my ‘A’ Level English Lit, I didn’t think I would ever be able to look at another Hardy novel. I couldn’t fathom appreciating his verbose writing style nor the arrogant and presumptuous way he portrayes his female protagonists. Which is funny because I find these exact same things endearing in a writer such as Salman Rushdie. I don’t know if it is because the break has been more than ample or that Hardy repeatedly uses derivatives of one of my favourite words: undulate but I’m suddenly captivated in a world so distant and yet so real.
I’ve been thinking about books and words and writing a lot since last weekend. At World Book Night, Mark Haddon decided against reading from his own work and instead opted to talk for 15 minutes. He was eloquent, touching and real. Melding stories of his creative writing workshops with his own need for inspiration he offered the audience a concise and fascinating insight into the mind of a best selling author.
I can’t do plots. There I said it. I just don’t know how to weave a story, which is funny as I’m always telling some sort of story. I’m more of a “character person”. I get people. I see who they are and what motivates them. I can capture words and churn out sharp and emotional dialogue. I just never know what to do with my characters. They could talk to each other for 2 and a half hours, I mean, when I’m really into the process I hear them having random conversations about the weather or the price of cheese in my head. I hear their diction, their tonality and that all affects the way that I write them. I can see them, smell them, hug them when they’re down and laugh at all their jokes, but I have no sense of where they’re headed. So when Mark Haddon started talking about creating plots, I realised how much truth there was in his statement that a writer doesn’t need to join all the dots, the audience/reader has to do that for themselves, and that is where the drama lies. He gave me so much to think about regarding my many pieces of unfinished work.
In particular I’m referring to something that I’m guessing I started soon after my 24th birthday. I recently discovered it on my hard drive in a folder I hardly ever open. I’m pretty sure about when it was written because the dialogue between this couple seems to echo a particular part of my life. I began reading what was a hefty 7 pages of completely forgotten text and came to realise just who these people were. I understood who I was dealing with and also recognised the fact that deep within every single thing that I have ever written is a little part of me. Some pieces have larger chunks, others have just a tiny chip of my smile or a broken shard of my heart. But hidden amongst poems and plays is a part of me that I’ve chosen to let go of and to embed. Either to release something painful or to celebrate, but it’s amazing how simply reading something that I had previously written provided such a deep insight into one of the many facets of the person I’ve left behind. I think it’s good to be reminded of your journey every so often. Those forgotten moments may have been stuffed into a proverbial corner, left to rot and disintegrate, but the words I wrote reflect emotions that I still don’t fully comprehend. And now with several years of distance it’s almost like I never felt them, like these 2 people talking on my screen really are characters, strangers ineffectually plodding along as I revel in the fact that I’m not.
There’s something exciting about that….