A well-known and respected writer once told a group I belonged to, when you’re writing don’t share your ideas with anyone. Hug them to yourself until at least the first draft is written. This helps retain the energy of the ideas as you write, rather than allowing them to become weakened by leaking out into the universe.
The idea seemed to make sense at the time. We were a group of budding children’s writers and we all aspired to write like the person running the workshop. However, now I no longer write fiction, but write memoir and life stories, I’ve changed my mind.
In an earlier piece I mentioned the role of conversation to ignite the memory when remembering detail from the past. By talking with others they share their memories and as often as not you are reminded of something similar that would add even more depth to the piece you’re writing.
I experienced a strong reminder of this over the weekend. I’d shared a piece I’d written with a writing group I belong to, a group where once a month we share and discuss our works in progress. My little piece was an experimentation in writing style for me, about the dressing sheds at the old swimming baths in our town over fifty years ago. I hoped it showed a little of the social activity of local kids back in the 1960s.
The women in the group are all of a similar age and much to my amazement my piece triggered off a few memories of their own. One in particular held a lot of memories for me. As the other writer talked of the knot holes in the walls of the old wooden changing sheds I smiled at the daring memories of my own. Knot holes in the walls were something I’d forgotten.
I too had peeping through knot hole stories from my teenage swimming days. Two delicious images floated before my eyes and I quickly scribbled them down. The others laughed when I related them and said the stories must be included in the piece of writing. They added flavour to the piece.
Now, while I’m not yet ready to reveal in writing what I saw through the knot holes, I was reminded memoir and life stories writers must share their ideas as they write. It’s difficult to remember details when locked away in seclusion. Use the memoires of others to ignite your own and you may be surprised at what small snippets of detail surface.
It’s rather like peeping through the knot holes in the swimming pool dressing sheds. You never know what to expect.
Do you have memories of peeping through a hole and seeing something not for your eyes? What did you see? What were the consequences? Please do share them with us.