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Room with a View
Category: Writing
Tags: writing inspiration


I was going to blog about starting the New Year with some writing goals, but that seemed a little too predictable and same old, same old. So I'm going to write about the writing environment instead. And I don't mean your desk, or table or favourite chair.

Last night I watched a programme, which featured how writers and artists had been, and still are, influenced by the British countryside.

The Brontë sisters used to do most of their writing after 9pm when their father had gone to bed. Emily and her sisters portrayed the mood of the moors in the iconic novel Wuthering Heights. And the same place is still being painted by an 72 year old artist, who calls the moors his 'mistress' and fulfilling a goal he wrote at the tender age of 16 to use his brush as the Brontë's had used their pens.

David Hockney is very much a Yorkshire man, despite spending a lot of his time in America. But he returns to the same familiar spot, places he has painted many times and continues to paint them. Now he uses an iPad (I kid you not) rather than a brush and canvas to create his stunning colourful scenes.

Beatrix Potter, a woman I envy, could not only write but also draw and it was from those pictures that she introduced us to fascinating characters like Peter Rabbit. (Did you know that she was also a gifted amateur mycologist - I didn't know what one was until last night.)

And no-one could deny the impact of the Dorset countryside on Thomas Hardy. His bucolic prose and understanding of the lives of people who lived there provided him with power to pen such tales as Far From the Madding Crowd.

It struck me that as expats, and expat writers, we have a wealth of inspiration in our 'back yard'. I am forever surprised by the ever-changing background of the Sibillini Mountains, the tip of which I can see from my window; the hue of the trees as they travel the colour wheel from month to month; the stark seasons of dry hot summers, theatrical thunderstorms, metres of virgin white snow and the tips of bright green growth. I wish I could draw them, alas those skills have not been gifted to me, but I shall endeavour to raise my head a little more for inspiration.


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Monday, October 05, 2015
Site news 5 October 2015
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Rules, Restrictions and Darn Right Spontaneous!
Posted by Crilly

George Bernard Shaw famously declared -

‘The golden rule is that there are no golden rules.’

We have rules to create boundaries by which we can live safely. A simple example is road rules. In Australia we drive on the left and as a  rule  most people adhere to that. (Imagine the carnage if we didn’t!)

It is compulsory to wear a helmet when riding a push-bike, swimming pools must be fenced and there has to be soft-fall on the ground in children’s playgrounds. These are just some of our many rules here in Australia.

If you are like me, you check your emails daily. Perhaps also, you find there are invariably some concerned with writing.

The types that say – ‘Avoid using this or it is better to do that.’

This got me thinking about how the myriad writing rules or suggestions affect spontaneity.

I wondered if for example, Charles Dickens worried about run-on sentences when he appeared to be more concerned with poverty and the lack of social welfare in Britain at the time.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair..." from  A Tale of Two Cities

Equally, was Jane Austen anxious about adverbs and adjectives when writing about the delicate and sometimes risky economic situations the women of that era found themselves in? It seems she also got away with double negatives as shown below.

"She owned that, considering everything, she was not absolutely without inclination for the party." from  Emma 

When hunched over a small table and squinting by candlelight, were these great writers constrained by the so-called writing rules? It seems not.

On researching this, I found articles saying ‘Never open a story with the weather.’ Use patois sparingly. Avoid exclamation points and the old chestnut, ‘Show Don’t Tell’ can be found everywhere!

V.S. Naipaul recommends never write long sentences, a maximum of 10-12 words (sorry, Mr Naipaul, I failed you in this blog!)

Use the active voice unless specifically requiring the passive and don’t get me started on irregular past participles and those awful dangling modifiers! There are times when I’m convinced I slept through some English lessons at school or like taxation laws, have new rules have been introduced merely to confuse?

After writing that first draft do you go back to the beginning and alter this or delete that aware that unless you do, it may cost you the writing competition?  What if the judge is known to have a predilection about this or that, do you adjust your writing to better your chances?  

 Are there rules that really annoy and frustrate you and inhibit free-flowing, spontaneous writing?

Or in conclusion, do you ignore the rules and scribble darn right spontaneously?

Then again, maybe you think like G.K Chesterton did when he declared...

‘There are no rules of architecture for a castle in the clouds.


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