Writing With My Eyes Shut
This week I had the chance to look at a draft of the teachers' notes which will accompany Crow Country. These are detailed notes which are available for schools to use, unpicking the themes of the book and the use of language, and providing suggestions for classroom activities. (When they're completed, there will be a link from here.)
It's a strange, and not altogether comfortable, experience to read study notes for a book you've written. It feels weird to see your story dissected and deconstructed. Also, it makes me seem a lot cleverer than I actually am. Teachers' notes ask questions like, why did the author decide to do this, or this? when often I didn't consciously decide to do one thing or the other. If I had to answer those questions myself, the best I could offer would be, it felt right, or that's what the story needed, or that's just what that character would do. Which, frankly, would sound pretty lame in a book report.
For me, a great deal of the writing process takes place below the level of conscious thought. Choices are made by intuition rather than reason. A lot of the time, I don't really know what I'm doing, or at least I can't explain it. I think this is one reason why I sometimes feel uncomfortable when I'm taking writing workshops in schools. I feel like a fraud. If I don't know why or how I do what I do, how can I possibly hope to teach it to anyone else? What can I say? Close your eyes and write down what you see?
Maybe instead of writing workshops, I should offer to hold daydreaming workshops. Now there's an idea.