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  • Writer's picturergharis

Where It All Began...

Hi! Welcome to my first blog. I’m going to be writing about my MA writing journey which I started in September 2018. As a result of a deadline to submit four thousand words of prose, I needed to finish a piece of writing I didn’t think was very good but loved the idea.

The idea came to me in a writing class one Thursday afternoon. More of a picture in my mind than an idea. I’m so visual!

I saw a little girl study her mother as she poured orange juice into a glass. I sensed it was 1950s USA. Cynthia, the little girl’s mother, wore red cut-offs, a pink gingham shirt and her red hair was tied in a bandana. A plastic strip hung from the ceiling, covered in flies. The whirring of the refrigerator broke the silence of the humid afternoon. Beyond the open kitchen door, the apple trees and flowers decorated the lush grass. A swimming pool sat in the middle of the yard.

The beginning of my novel. I wrote two thousand words and stopped. Read it over. Thought it was rubbish. I started my MA and my tutor Sophie Nicholls said:

‘The first draft is completely different from editing. They are two different skill sets.'

I felt a glimmer of hope and the light bulb flashed on when I read Annie Lamott's

‘Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and the shitty first draft.’

Please excuse the language. I’ll use asterix next time but I just wanted writers who are reading this to understand the first draft will be s*****! I felt so relieved it just wasn’t me. Now, I’m not saying your beautiful ideas and words are s***** It’s just the craft of writing is a learned thing, an editing thing!

My tutors wanted four thousand words of prose. My deadline was looming so I silenced the insults in my brain and went for it. I used a little editing tool from ‘The Little Book of Self Editing for Writers by Bridget McKenna, sent in the polished writing. The feedback was positive and encouraging.

Already the MA course helped my work. Sophie’s comment, writing to deadline, and positive feedback from those who know, not just friends or family who love me and want to keep me happy, but published professional writers who sort of knew a thing or two.

I’ll stop waffling now. Bridget’s little book is super and it includes a downloadable check-list. Annie Lamott’s Bird by Bird: Instructions on Writing and Life is one not to be missed.

My story examines autism in the1950s and how far we have come.

I’ll leave this post by setting the scene about a powerful family who tried to change the way disability was treated.

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