Monday, May 5, 2008

Ken Armstrong's Guest Post!

It brings me great pleasure to introduce Ken Armstrong from Writing Stuff as the first guest blogger for! Take a moment to read his post here and then go check out his blog! If you would like to contribute to HuntingtheMuse, please check out this post.

If You Love Something Set It Free, If It Comes Back Then It Probably Wasn’t Much Good…

I happened upon Brady’s excellent Blog quite by accident. In truth, it was my failing eyesight that led me here. You see, I thought I was visiting a site called ‘Humping The Muse’ and, well, that’s probably a story best left for another day.

Brady and I were discussing (electronically) the business of ‘letting your writing go’ after you have done with writing it. He reckoned I might have something to say about that, having let a number of plays go out into the world at this stage.

What I think is this:

Writing something can be looked upon as a series of consummations. The act of getting the writing onto the paper, or into the computer or up onto the wall – that, in itself, is a consummation.

For me at least though, there is a far greater consummation to follow. It is that moment when the writing is placed before somebody else. That, as the Ham-Man said is another ‘consummation devoutly to be wished’. That is the Real Deal.

This might be less true for poetry. Poetry is such a personal business that the process of getting it written may well be a completely satisfying end in itself, much as it must be with a personal diary.

But for the kind of stuff which I tend to do – plays and stories and such – my personal opinion is that my work is not truly complete until it is seen, until it has been read. My story is not really a story until somebody has heard it.

So where as all this high-fallutin’ theorising leading? Simply here; if you want to finally consummate your writing, you are, sooner or later going to have to give it away. To a story editor, a publisher, a director, a producer. You will simply have to give it up.

So Brady asked me – what’s that like for me? To give my writing up.

It’s wonderful!

Well, if you think about it, it’s bound to be wonderful, isn’t it? I’ve burned the midnight oil, abandoned my social life, grown fat and smelly in the solitary pursuit of my writing and now, finally, somebody wants it enough that they are willing to take it on and show it to the world for me.

Wonderful… but scary too.

I’ve been in total control of this thing. I’ve been dictator, demagogue, deity over my little patch or writing, answerable to nobody. Now, it’s up and leaving me.

Scary… and sometimes disappointing.

My vision for my writing is a deeply personal thing. Often the person who takes it and presents it to the world/village hall will not share intimately in my vision. What the world sees may not tally exactly with what I intended. That can be disappointing.

But ultimately, I have found the business of letting people take my writing away to be exciting, educational, liberating, inspiring, stimulating and tremendously satisfying.

In my limited experience, the people who are motivated enough to take your writing out into the world will inject something of themselves into the work and the result is almost invariably greater than the sum of its parts.

So when the guy comes looking for your writing, you will give it away. You have to, it’s the final consummation of all your efforts.

My advice? Do it with a big smile. The result is almost sure to be great.

Almost sure to be.


Rachel Fox said...

I agree..and even if the result doesn't seem great at first you can usually will it (or write it) into being something useful or interesting in some way...eventually.

Jim Murdoch said...

What strikes me the most is when people take ownership of your work. I wrote a love poem once, not I have to say a particularly good love poem, but it was included in a group I let my boss read. "Can I get a copy of this one?" she asked, and, of course I gave her a copy and from that day on, the poem has been known, even by me, as 'the Barry Poem' because it expressed exactly how she felt about this particular guy.

CelloBella said...

I remember (and this is no comparison to writing a play!!) when I first found one of my blog posts on an aggregate site.

At first I felt a bit unsure - I didn't really like the idea of someone just lifting my content without even a by your leave.

But then I thought - well... maybe it means more people read it and as I'm not writing for profit what does it really matter?

I wonder if our public broadcasters feel the same?

Probably not.


Ken Armstrong said...

Rachel: I like the idea of 'willing' something into being useful - I know exactly what you mean.

Jim: I think she did that 'scond-consummation-thing' on your poem (and probably with Barry too).

Cellobella: I think I would have the hump to find my stuff used on another site without my permission. Let's you and me go round his place and throw his washing in the mud or something.