Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Builders and fishermen, a MAT with a purpose

I am MATing, but there is a point. (Well, I would say that wouldn't I?)

Last night the boyf and I were talking about writing and I said I felt as if I was assembling, not writing at the moment. I'm just collecting the already-written pieces of my third (sorry, second) novel and putting them into a different order now that I've decided to write the story in the third person. I said I didn't feel really connected to what I was doing the way I do when I am struck by an idea that I think will work, or when I have managed to make the language sing. I was just assembling.

But the boyf said, wisely, that we have to be builders as well as interior decorators when we write and that all the foundation-laying and brick-assembling, let alone the plastering, plumbing, wiring and insulation, have to be done before we can do the bit that makes the heart sing.

He told me that in the days when he was in the building trade, the plasterers and bricklayers, the plumbers and electricians would ask to come back to a job when it was finished - just so's they could see how it looked when the walls were painted, the carpets laid and the curtains hung. They wanted to see the beautiful results of their invisible work, results that couldn't exist without all that they had done, even though all that they had done wasn't visible.

In his Memoirs Pablo Neruda wrote:

The work of writers has much in common with the work of ... Arctic fishermen. The writer has to look for the river and if he finds it frozen over he has to drill a hole in the ice. He must have a good deal of patience, weather the cold ... look for the deep water, cast the proper hook, and after all that work, he pulls out a tiny little fish. So he must fish again ... eventually landing a bigger fish. And another and another.

A moment ago I didn't know I was going to go from assembling to fishing ... but that's what happens.

At the moment I'm building: assembling, bricklaying, plumbing and wiring. When that's done I will put on my cold weather gear and go fishing. And when I finally make it back with my catch ... towards the middle of this year with any luck ... I will begin eating, decorating (and singing).

2 comments:

sheri said...

this is perhaps the best way i have ever heard the process of writing put. your boyfriend is absolutely right and when put that way i dont feel quite so badly about staring out my window for days while my brain slowly wraps around who my character is and why her story needs to be told. i thank you for this. perhaps now my husband will understand a little. may i quote you on my blog?

Angela Young said...

Sheri, please do quote from my blog on yours, thank you for your comment and thank you for asking. And I like your idea of a mini story each Monday. More power, and determination, to your writing elbow.