Good morning world!
It's Claire here, your Monday buddy. Our grand plans for this blogging empire see us each contributing one sage, witty post a week, and so nobody can shirk out of their turn, we've each chosen a day. Because I spend most of my days chasing an 11-month-old tiny person around the house, trying to disentangle her from the dog/ cat/ refrigerator/ power-points/ rubbish bins (just insert whatever babies shouldn't touch and that's where I find her most of the time), I've picked Monday in the vain hope that I'll get my posts written on the weekend.
Time shall tell.
Well, this week, you can look forward to a post each day from your new friends in which we'll elaborate on the grand question: why DO you write?
Those who have frequented my individual blog, Stones Bones and Artillery Shells, will know that I'm not good at brevity when it comes to pouring out my thoughts. But I'll try to be concise and entertaining here, I really will.
You've already seen in my introduction that I love reading and I love words. Books have always been an escape for me and I can't imagine life without them. I had a very international upbringing, growing up in Europe, Asia and Australia in an oil industry family, and for me books were a form of stability. I used them to make sense of the world, and to understand that human beings, by nature, think and feel in a multitude of ways. I still do.
I use my writing for the same things. When I write, I'm taking myself to a familiar world where I have all the control. If I want sunshine or rain, it's up to me. If I want flowers or mud, I can choose. And I can use that place and the people I meet there to help me understand the way people think and feel. In turn, this helps me understand how *I* think and feel.
It's all very deep, I assure you. I guess that's why my genre is literary fiction.
The ability to be a control freak might be one of the things I like about writing, but it's not what drives me. Nor is the enjoyment I get from understanding how people think and feel. What drives me is the way my breath catches when I read about those things as presented by a real master- when the mode of expression grabs me, makes me think, refuses to let me go.
And that's what I aspire to do to all of you with my writing.
The title of this blog post is a reference to just that- the breath-catching moment when you read something and think, "Yes! Yes. I understand- but not only that. I feel."
It comes from a Robert Frost poem, Acquainted with the Night. When I first read that poem, I was about 15 and I'd been working for a little while on a story about the London Blitz in WWII; a time in history that interested me. I had a head full of two-dimensional characters, some vague ideas about what I wanted to say. But I was lacking a certain... electricity. And then I read the Frost poem, and the spark was lit. My mind was crackling with possibilities.
I'll quote you some of the poem:
I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain - and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.
I have looked down the saddest city lane.
I have passed by the watchman on his beat
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.
I don't know exactly what Frost saw when he wrote that poem, but when I read it in the context of my story, I saw a man. Alone. Lonely. Walking in darkness, but not afraid like everyone else. And I wanted to know why- why wasn't he scared of being killed by a bomb?
The answers came flooding in; because he felt he had nothing left to live for. He wasn't even supposed to be there. His son was missing in action. He was desperate; desperately without hope, but for some reason hoping still. There was a woman. A child. A confessional letter.
A sense of history repeating.
Time began to unravel in front of me, and I saw how his life had led him there. The First World War. Love. Loss. Betrayal. The one constant thing in his world- his son. Gone. Now what?
Don't worry if you don't see the same from those few lines; you will. It's all in BETWEEN THE LINES, which tells the tale of Bill Cutler, an Australian who goes to fight in World War I and comes home to find himself a single father to a son, Jared, he knew nothing about. He struggles to raise his son while fighting the demons of his war experience, but the Second World War is coming, and the inevitable happens- Jared enlists. Bill's world falls apart when Jared is declared missing in action over Britain, and stricken with grief he crosses the world to search for his son. In London he finds Jared's fiance Laura, her eccentric sister Meredith, and their orphaned young neighbour Archie. And slowly, slowly, just when Bill thinks he's lost everything, he finds himself coming back to life for the first time in twenty years.
I'm delighted to have such wonderful company to share my writing journey. We may be all over the world, but we still see the same moon- that luminary clock against the sky. It's one example of the things that unite us.
So, in the interests if kinship, and friends both old and new, how about leaving me a comment to tell me this:
What makes YOU catch your breath, in writing, reading or otherwise?
(And in commenting, you'll also put yourself in the draw to win this week's book giveaway- FIRE IN FICTION, by super-literary agent Don Maass).