Notebook

Things I am interested in:

  • how writers turn autobiography into fiction
  • the idea that remembering is the same as making things up
  • using techniques of fiction making in memoir writing
  • the effect following a particular religion has on your voice
  • how the passing of time works in books of fiction and long, creative non-fiction
  • how writers use other people’s stories in their fiction and the ethics of this
  • Crufts and dog breeding and training generally

Book recommendations welcome.

I am learning to like the ‘research’ stage of a novel – although still finding it difficult to apply the things I read and discover to my own writing. Writing, for me, is a skill and a craft and while theory might be interesting I’m not doing an essay. I don’t need to back up everything my characters say or think with footnotes.

Method so far is: read a lot, think a lot and letting it all simmer for a while. When something snags my attention, follow it.

Current Reading:

Jonathan Franzen, The Discomfort Zone

The Journal of Discourses

Stephen King, Full Dark, No Stars

Don’t need to know why or be able to explain my intentions to myself until much later, if at all. The answer to why I am interested in all these things is only: because I am. Because they appeal to me. Then scribble and scribble and scribble.

Then a book comes out a year or two later. In theory. 

9 responses to “Notebook”

  1. Flannery O’Connor’s Mystery and Manners was great on how her religion was wrapped into her writing, though the whole book (an essay collection) was a bit repetitive.

  2. Carys Bray says:

    Ahh, the Journal of Discourses – what jolly reading that is 🙂

  3. Do you know it, Carys? I want a print version, or I want to know which date print version the kindle version is a kindle-ised version of.

    Does that make any sense at all?

  4. Emily says:

    I am really interested in this too Jenn and will check back to see what others have to say… I wanted to do it with my book but because of the blog, everyone would have known it was autobiographical. I have other life stories I want to make into fiction when this one is done though.

  5. Calum Kerr says:

    Hi Jenn,
    re: your first few things, I’m teaching Life Writing at the moment and engaging with a lot of the ideas of life and fiction. If you fancy a chat about it, drop me a line.

  6. Paul Tovell says:

    Hi Jenn

    I’m new to your website but have really enjoyed reading it and find it very inspirational – one day I’ll start writing!

    I thought I’d comment on this post by mentioning the work of Steven Millhauser. He’s one of the best short story writers I’ve ever come across, and I think he, like you, is very interested in several of these things – you must think along the same lines!
    – the passing of time in fiction (see Alice, Falling)
    – the idea of fiction / autobiography blurring (see The Eighth Voyage of Sinbad for Sinbad’s own narrative “autobiography”)
    – the idea of making things up / remembering (see The Invention of Robert Herendeen – my favourite ever short story about a boy who makes up an imaginary girlfriend and then loses her to an imaginary man).

    All are to be found in his “The Barnum Museum”, where he also includes the story that inspired the 2006 film “The Illusionist”. I would heartily recommend him! That might just be the librarian in me 😉

    Incidentally, do you find it easier to write short stories or novels?
    All the best, and keep going!
    Paul

  7. Carys Bray says:

    Will send you a message on facebook!

  8. Megan says:

    I’m afraid I have no book recommendations. Watch Best in Show,
    megan x

  9. Dave says:

    I’m interested in the points you mentioned (below). I have written several plays dealing with the idea of memory and imagination. I’m also interested in historical fiction and how it works and how history as a discipline works. Let me know and we can chat further if it helps.

    # how writers turn autobiography into fiction
    # the idea that remembering is the same as making things up
    # using techniques of fiction making in memoir writing
    # how the passing of time works in books of fiction and long, creative non-fiction

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *