Wednesday, 25 May 2016

All the flowers in my garden

... are blooming. The family are well, the words are throwing themselves on the page in an orderly manner and the summer is coming (admittedly in fits and starts). Our gardens are filled with vegetables and flowers, the house is comfortable and the cottage is feeling more and more like home.

Something else is happening. My son Kez is studying creative writing, which is great, we have plenty to talk about. But what has astonished me these last four weeks is seeing him grow as a writer. He has always had a great storytelling ability, he can make up an excuse on the fly, creates wonderful stories, helps me plot whole books... but when he went to write his own ideas down something stilted his words, his writing became removed from his own voice. Admittedly, second drafts would untangle some of the distant, stunted passages he wrote, they started to sound more like him, but he was reluctant to really let go and let himself live on the page. Then something happened, some combination of talking to his tutors, writing his assignments and getting feedback, exploring story in books, films and video games changed something. His first drafts are starting to sound like him, from the get go. His second drafts are opening that up further, and he's writing emotion as well as action. His dialogue, always a weakness, sounds like people. It happened quite suddenly after he wrote a ratty first draft of a contemporary short story. All his writing has shot up a gear, and better than that, he seems to understand a lot of what is better about it. Learning to write creatively and imaginatively is also about learning about the craft of writing, the techniques that transfer your imagination into words with the least loss of detail and truth. 

I am proud of him. While I do read his drafts when he asks me, and I do suggest punctuation or point out repetitions, he's much more comfortable doing the creative work. My previous role was mostly threatening him and bribing him with treats like a Labrador. 'Just a hundred more words - just another reference.' Even better, he has a real idea for a dissertation piece that could build into a novel.

Whether he becomes a writer or not, I am very proud of the writing he's done in the last month. And it's all made him a better editor (which is what he wants to be). He is my first reader and first editor. I'm looking forward to seeing what he writes next.