A couple of weeks ago I went to see a play (which shall be nameless but it was at the RSC) and afterwards I read an interview with the lead actor in which he boasted that he hadn’t attended drama school (and he didn’t regret it).
Hmm, I thought to myself, hmm. Because his performance was good.. OK, you know, but not brilliant, not entirely convincing. And perhaps, if he had gone to drama school, it would have been better.
Because there’s nothing wrong with learning from those who are more talented or more experienced than you, right? That’s why I still have tennis coaching and why, despite being a some-time tutor and occasionally-published writer, I still like to go to workshops and glean (ooh, good word) what I can from others.
So, last weekend, courtesy of my OH, I was at a writing workshop/retreat run by Alison May and Janet Gover, award-winning, published novelists and good teachers to boot (because, let’s face it, the two don’t automatically go together).
I wanted to find out more about writing a novel. I’ve tried a few times – NaNoWriMo and Mills and Boon and stuff like that – but I’ve never actually managed to make it to the end. And a novel without an ending is a bit like Strictly without the glitter, or the celebrity dancers: a half-thing in which no-one – especially anyone likely to publish or read it – is interested.
We had to submit the first 5000 words of our ‘novel’, a synopsis and a covering letter (to a potential agent), so all of that had spurred me on and in advance of the workshop I actually managed to write an 80,000 word first draft. Not quite cause for celebration because it’s all a bit of a mess (and apparently you write the first draft for yourself – one of the things I learned – because it always has tons of backstory, which you, as the writer, need to know, but that you don’t put in the novel!).
I have a lot of work to do. Most of my first 5000 words has got to be jettisoned! (or at least, put in later, not at the start) and my synopsis? Don’t get me started on that. It was 3 pages of waffle (I now realise), when it should have been 1 page of the main plot points only.
So, I’ve given myself a couple of days off and then I will make a start. I really couldn’t have done any writing today anyway because at 11am this morning we went on a tour of the Cotswolds Distillery and I was tipsy by 11.30am!