Since I’ve come back from Varuna, I’ve only done any concentrated writing twice. So I’ve gone from writing every day to writing less than once a week! It makes me appreciate the time I had at Varuna all the more, but also realise I need to work out some sort of timetable for writing, kind of like when I’d make up study timetables at uni…only this time I need to stick to it! (When I was at Varuna, my reading time just rocketed off the chart too – I was reading a book every day or two, and from all sorts of genres, which was so wonderful. Since I’ve been home, I’ve started one or two half heartedly, and only finished reading things for work. Most disheartening.)
I always hated the idea of slating in creative time, thinking it ought to just flow naturally when it was ready. But I have to accept the fact that in my life at the moment, ‘spare’ time all too easily slips away and I end up crawling into bed at night, realising I haven’t always done the things I wanted to do every day, like reading my Bible and praying (more than just the prayers that flit through my head when I’m lying awake in the dark), and spending time writing and reading (oh…and finishing quilting my quilt!).
I do look on this post-Varuna time as a bit of a gestational period as well, so I’m not too upset about not writing (just think I need to get it back on track before ere long). The writing at Varuna brought up a lot of new stuff in the book that needs time to develop in my mind. However, I do think it would benefit from me carving time out of the week to go somewhere quiet and just concentrate on it.
The other thing I’ve been thinking about is how my worldview as a Christian does or doesn’t come through in my work. I think there is a definite moral framework obvious in my writing, and although there may not be overtly Christian themes in it, I seem to show the consequences of living a more worldly life and the lack of fulfilment in striving for purely worldly goals. I’m certainly not a happily-ever-after kind of writer, and I think a lot of my stuff is characterised more by the bittersweet than the happy ending. Characters might get what they want, but it’s not always what they need, and it usually doesn’t turn out that well. I don’t think that’s necessarily cynical, I think that’s just how life goes. Nothing ends up neat and tidy, and even amongst the highs and peaks of life, there is a lot of mess and complication that is ongoing. I don’t want to perpetuate the lie of the chick lit romantic comedy (although I don’t think that’s exactly where my writing is pitched…but it’s hard, when you write primarily about relationships, to work out how to describe it without sounding a bit chick litty).
But is that enough? Do I need to be more overt? I haven’t read that much contemporary Christian fiction and any that I have read has not sat well with me. But then there are wonderful Christian writers like CS Lewis and John White who wrote fiction – admittedly it was fantasy, so there was possibly more scope for setting up polarities of good and evil and using allegory (whether intentionally or not). I must say though, that since writing the original first chunk of the book a few years ago, I am becoming more and more aware of what I’m putting out there and what it says – not just within the world of the book, but what it says about me as the book’s author. I have stressed time and again that although there’s a lot of me in it, the book is not autobiographical. But I can’t shy away from the fact that it represents a large part of me.
The article that sparked off this post is It’s Never ‘Just a Movie’ from the Boundless website.