Monday, February 09, 2009

Groundhog Day and Zombie Undead

How many stories have so encapsulated an idea that their title has become a phrase in the English language? I can think of two. Catch 22 and Groundhog Day. Curiously both describe a kind of trap where you can never get out of the situation.

Well, I look out of my window this morning and see a blanket of snow. Will my writing class be on this evening? Yes, it's Groundhog Day. Exactly a week ago, I looked out on a snowy scene and asked myself the same question.

But in reality things move on. This is the final class in a series of five and the snow does not look so deep or so disruptive as it did a week ago. Last week, eight dedicated writers pushed their way through to reach the class. I'm sure there will be as many or more tonight.

The class is "Starting to write a novel", but I am going to have to come clean and tell the students that I can't actually teach them to write a novel at all. Lots of people tell me they have a book in their head that they will write one day. A few of those actually do the brave thing and start writing it. A fraction of the ones who start writing will press on to the end. And of those a surprisingly small number get round to sending their completed work out to publishers. But the harsh truth of it is this - there is no shortcut to learning to write a novel. You just have to write one. And then another. And then another. (Whether or not you get published, you still continue to learn with everything you write.)

A class can do some things though. It can give help and support and advice along the way. It can teach techniques. And hopefully it can make the journey easier and more enjoyable.

Over the weekend, I had the pleasure of acting in a zombie movie being shot in Leicester. (No, I was not a zombie. Though I was devoured by one or two of them!) The picture below is a mobile phone snap, so forgive the poor resolution.

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