A couple of weeks ago I attended the Penfro book festival in Pembrokeshire and took a couple of writing workshops. The first one has lingered in my mind. The class was Making Words Workby author Hilary Shepherd. Her novels are In a foreign country and Animated Baggage.
I arrived ten minutes early to Hillary’s workshop. We discussed her experience with different editors and I confessed my excitement and apprehension of one day working with an editor. The prospect of how someone else would interpret my novel. In that moment I made a small connection with Hillary. Our conversation fitted nicely with what she wanted to convey during the workshop. That the right words can transform our writing into something wonderful, and by editing our work we can fine tune it to be clear and concise.
I understood the concept of the class but it threw me back to my English literature days. My English teacher and I clashed on most of my reviews. Humph!
I’m not alone in this. My daughter complains of the injustice of being misunderstood. Her teacher regularly asks her to interpret someone else’s writing but doesn’t agree with her answers. (I guess it’s a family trait.)
I remember this all too well, it was a common occurrence during my GCSE’s.
How can there only be one correct version to literature? Surely everyone garners a different perspective? We all have different tastes and quirks. Some of us may prefer the long descriptions of Dickens, whilst others love the beauty of emotions and the tug of heart strings.
Hilary gave us excerpts to read. It was easy to see what didn’t work. Yet harder to define what was great. I appreciate and admire great writing, but emulating it in my work is a different matter.
Instead I’ll strive to learn through vicarious reading, the practice of writing. Perhaps one day I’ll look at each piece of craft and dissect it with knowing eyes.
© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2016.