Wednesday, 11 January 2012

January writing blues and a lot of hooptedoodle!

Our course is rather unique in that we have our first major hand for the third year at the end of January. Although I have presented four times in the first term, I always struggle with the first piece of electronic hand in requiring full references, critiques and proper writing!
I was in full procrastination mode on the weekend. You know  all those really dodgy jobs that just seem extra important when you have a deadline looming? These include:
  •   Attacking the lime-scale behind the kitchen tap that is almost invisible to the naked eye
  •   Cleaning out the bathroom cupboards
  •   Colour coding the sock drawer
  •   Sorting out the plastic container drawer        
  •   Checking out the very latest You Tube crazy animal antics 
  •  Touching up the paintwork on the skirting boards that can only be seen if you lie flat and get out a magnifying glass
What is about writing that puts me in such a flat spin?  This list is attributed to Petruska Clarkson who wrote one of our core texts The Therapeutic Relationship - a really dense academic tome. During her amazing lifetime she wrote loads of stuff and distilled her experience into this tongue in cheek list.

Ten Secret Rules for Good Writing
1.       It will always take at least twice as long as you anticipated
2.       70% of your efforts and resources will be wasted
3.       Cultural and personal demons in your head will attack it
4.       As soon as you really get going you will be interrupted
5.       You will think it is the worst thing you ever did
6.       You will reach a stuck point where you feel despair
7.       You will feel misunderstood
8.       You will be judged and criticised
9.       There will always be people who do better and worse than you for no clear reason
10    If only for a moment you will think it the best thing you ever did

I’m still trying to decide just how applicable this is to me.  Maybe that’s another suitable procrastination task to keep me thoroughly busy! Then I found information on Amazon about a book called Elmore Leonard’s10 Rules of Writing. In the prologue, the author quotes from John Steinbeck’s Sweet Thursday where his character describes so well the horrors of text with over fancy embellishments

“ I like a lot of talk in a book and I don’t like to have nobody tell me what the guy that’s talking looks like.  I want to figure out what he looks like from the way he talks…figure out what the guy’s thinking about from what he says.  …Sometimes I want a book to break loose with a bunch of hooptedoodle… Spin up some pretty works maybe or sing a little song with language.  That’s nice.  But I wish it was set aside so I don’t have to read hooptedoodle to get mixed up with the story”

When I work in the Enquiry Unit on Wednesdays, I sit next to Cherie, a fellow blogger ( .  She is doing a creative writing course and thinks nothing of knocking out 3000 words before brekkie.  When she gets going on the keyboard she types so fast I am surprised there is no smoke billowing out of it.  I asked her about her rules for writing and she replied “I have no rules – just write- anything – just write!!”

So there you are! It’s time for me to stop mucking around and just get stuck into it while enjoying using my new favourite word hooptedoodle in whatever context I can manage!

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