On Writing

Sunday, 24 April 2011

inside the writer's hut

a little something to go with that

writing the view

I don't think it's a coincidence that I stumbled upon these beautiful images of Dylan Thomas' writing hut by Angel Y on the same day I wanted to post about this topic. I've decided in the past week that I would love to introduce a regular series called 'on writing' on this blog. This is something I've been meaning to do for a while, but I have to admit that my entering the Sydney Writers' Centre competition has given me the final push to do it.

My chances of winning this competition are pretty slim as my little obscure blog has to contend with big-name blogs like Meet Me at Mikes and model Miranda Kerr's blog. I've sort of resigned myself to not winning, considering the kind of large readership and subsequent votes such famous blogs attract. But I'm not complaining, because I realise this has nudged me into action about my idea for a writing series - if I can't attend formal writing classes, why not start an ongoing writing discussion here?

Another reason for me deciding to start this writing series is that I do get quite a few emails from people asking for writing tips and advice. Although I do try to answer every email I get, sometimes I just don't have the time. And to be honest, I sort of feel like a fraud offering "advice". I mean, really, advice should be sought from better writers than myself. But it's also ungrateful not to respond to thoughtful emails in a thoughtful manner, so I hope this writing series will start discussions that answer some of the questions I get on a regular basis.

One of my favourite quotes about writing is by the author, Angela Carter, in her collection of essays and reviews, Expletives Deleted (1992), in which she writes that:

I don’t really think that writers, even great writers, are prophets, or sages, or Messiah-like figures; writing is a lonely, sedentary occupation and a touch of megalomania can be comforting around five on a November afternoon when you haven’t seen anybody all day.

How true! But rather than being comforted by megalomania (something that doesn't sit well with me), let's be comforted by discussion. I'll share my stories, reflections, questions, experiences and struggles, and I hope you guys will feel free to share your own. Writing can be an extremely isolating experience, something I struggled with throughout my PhD and still do now that it's over. I really feel the need now to make it less so.

P.S. I'm not giving up without a fight, so please keep spreading the word about the Sydney Writers' Centre competition and vote for me! Thanks a million to everyone who has voted, and I have to say that I've been really humbled by the support people have shown me. You really have no idea how much this means to me, it's a reward in itself - who needs prizes? And sorry, I will keep pestering about voting till the competition closes on 5 May.

All images by Angel Y, please do visit her lovely flickr account as it contains so many other beautiful photographs.


bluebird said...

Do you read either Kat Asharya's or Meggy Wang's blog? They're both currently writing novels, and have other writing projects (besides blogs) in the mix, and both talk about the process of writing in a really accessible and (importantly) an inspiring ways. I also recommend delving into the archives of Lucy Knisley's livejournal-- she's a cartoonist who has drawn/written book-length stories, and she also talks about the sometimes-lonely process of creating something on paper. I look forward to adding you to my roster of interesting women who write about a range of subjects, including writing.


Ashley said...

Wow, those photos are great; I love them! I think your blog is very special, and I'm following you now:)

b. said...

this sounds great. i can't wait to see what you have to say and get involved in the discussions. x

Desperately seeking Pegase said...

This is a great post lovely, I just found your blog ...x

Dorothee from www.desperatelyseekingpegase.com

tywo said...

these images are beautiful.
I hope you win, and I can't wait to read your series.
Have a fantastic Sunday!


If Jane said...

and please continue to share!!! love your writing!

Caitlin Rose said...

I think that's a great idea, I know I find the writing aspect of blogging the most difficult, and as for writing essays and such, I've always struggled. I've never been a very clear writer, and then sometimes I try to be so clear that my writing ends up sounding harsh.

p.s. beautiful pictures... and an interesting fact about myself is I'm named after Dylan Thomas' wife Caitlin : )

Tana said...

Hila, it's a very good idea to start this writing series,it can be very helpful!
hope,you'll have all chances to win the competition!(fingers crossed)

the dizzle said...

outlet but grew away from it. i'm just now getting back into it though (i feel your blog has been part of that inspiration actually). i like the way you write a lot - it's intellectual but not intimidating, especially with the photos it turns out really beautiful.

bronwyn said...

I like this idea and can't wait to see what comes of it. Now, how to get a writing hut like that?

Sarah said...

What a great idea about writing and starting a discussion. I agree with it's isolation, perhaps one of the reasons I drift off from writing. I'd love to hear your advice, and goodluck with the competition. x

Make it Easy said...

beautiful photos :-)
thanks for the comment on my room!!

See Hear Say said...

you really should keep trying on the competition and not giving it up just because of the other blogs with big names participating as well, at least you gotta keep trying!

the writing series is def a great idea. i have to be honest with you that i'm really bad at writing, one of my weaknesses since i was at school... sigh. and this is also as well one of the reason why my blogs are very visual and full of pics with minimal writing hahaha. i do love your writing though so keep doing what you're doing!!

Sundari said...

I have heard about this writing hut. It's like a legend and now I have seen the pictures. I have always loved the written word, it's a beautiful art and with a fine craftsman (woman in your case) it can be really powerful. If I wasn't at art school I would be studying english and dreaming of being a writer. Somebody like you really deserves to take part in this workshop. If not this time there will definitely be plenty of other chances!

andrea despot said...

i love angela carter (especially "the bloody chamber") and i love that quote by her! it's so true that writing can be a lonely occupation.

i grew up constantly writing in journals, feeling like i was always on the peripheral, always blurry. i was very quiet and shy, so i didn't have a lot of friends and i didn't get out much or party. when i went to college i felt like i finally started living. not that i partied or got crazy or anything, but i made a few really good friends, friends i felt i could finally be myself around; i was hundreds of miles away from home in a new city, i was studying something i loved, i had a job and i had classes. and so my writing stopped while i was in college. i finally felt like i was living instead of always having to describe everything.

i still miss writing, but i always felt like it was more of chore because i'm such a perfectionist. though i will always consider myself to be a writer because it was such a huge part of me growing up.

i recently wrote about my first trip to san francisco, the first time i've really written about something in a long time. i wasn't able to get any pictures because my camera broke, so i was left with only my words. it all felt like something i needed to write, something i needed to remember. i ended up writing about 7 long posts on my blogs about my trip. i got a few comments about what i good writer i am, something i haven't heard in so long and it meant so much! my mom said she loved the way i wrote about it, that i should continue writing about san francisco when i move there. her comment meant the most!

but i feel like if i set out to write about san francisco, it won't be the same. i like when things just happen. when i wrote about san francisco on my blogs, it was like i wasn't even in control. i'd be laying in bed at night and the sentences just formed themselves, i didn't even have to think about it. has this ever happened to you?

goodness, sorry for the long post!

Olga said...

For me, your posts are one of the most substantial moments of my day.

aldrin said...

don't leave your keyboard out if you have cats because they'll destroy your writing. sorry about the competition, h. that's a big boo-urns!

Christine said...

I love that first image! Thanks for posting this. I've been trying to push myself to write more, maybe even submit ideas to English magazines here in Berlin. I'm now newly motivated!

Siubhan said...

Great idea - I can identify with lonely winter afternoons too, although, like you, less with the megalomania! It would be fascinating to hear your tips and experiences.

Dylan Thomas' writing hut looks perfect. Quiet and inspiring. Best of luck with the competition - it would be lovely to see you win!

Rambling Tart said...

I really, really love these images, and this post. Writing is so dear to me, an outlet, comfort, inspiration. I look forward to reading more that you have to say on it. :-)

Tracey said...

This is a wonderful idea for a regular feature on your blog Hila. I think we can perhaps all learn and support each other?

The internet can be an amazing place for writers to connect, and feel a part of something ... while still being within the comfort of our own individual retreats.

Jazzy E (hivenn) said...

so stunning. x hivenn

ispystyle said...

Just voted for you. Good luck!
I think an 'On Writing' series would be a great addition to your blog - with your book, you're a published writer, so loads of aspiring writers will be really interested in the insight you can provide!
I'd be especially interested in a post about the processes that led to your book being published (I only discovered your blog a couple of months ago, so forgive me if you've already posted about it!)

lizzie said...

I adore that quote...and I've voted for you. Your blog is one of my favorites from ANYWHERE not just Australia.

naomemandeflores said...

In my humble opinion I believe you totally deserve to win. Your blog is amazing and so much more interesting than the ones you mentioned, for example.

I love the idea of an 'on writing' series!

Camila F.

P R I M O E Z A said...

i'll look forward to reading these posts hila. even though i'm the furthest thing from a writer, i often feel my work is quite isolating (not that i mind), but still, i relish getting out of my own head and sharing ideas.

gracia said...

On writing sounds like a great series to me and I look forward to seeing how you shape it. I'm intrigued already. And, having cast a vote for you already, I am hoping you win something for entering... whatever that may be. Encouragement, a pat on the back, a cheer, new readers, a great and hairy idea to rehouse, a victory in odd guise, the big prize. One or some or all. It's hard entering competitions. It's hard putting yourself forward. But the highs and lows! Who'd be without them!

hila said...

Bluebird: I have to admit that I haven’t read any of these blogs, so thanks for the suggestion! And thanks for adding me to your list of interesting women ;)

Ashley: thank you!

b.: that’s wonderful! I look forward to having you in the discussions.

Desperately seeking pegase: why thank you.

Tywo: thanks so much!

If jane: thanks, you are a sweetie :)

Caitlin rose: I do hope you find the series interesting. Writing is the easiest part for me about blogging, it’s the images that I find hard – I envy people who can create such beautiful photographs (like you). And how sweet that you were named after Dylan’s wife – I love her name.

Tana: thank you – yes, fingers crossed!

The dizzle: I’m really happy to hear you say that – I often get called “intimidating” and I always feel bad, because I obviously don’t mean to be!

Bronwyn: I know, I’d love a hut like this – preferably, by the sea.

Sarah: although I find the isolation hard at times, I can’t bring myself to drift away from writing. It feels like the most natural thing I can do.

Make it easy: my pleasure, it’s such a wonderful breezy room.

Laura: I know, you’re totally right about this. I just always shy away from popularity contests, because I’m so bad at them.

You are super kind! I think that the visual aspect of your blog is what makes it so successful and lovely. Let’s face it, my wordy blog can often deter people. But I’m not about to change this ;) I adore your blog, it’s one of my favourites.

Sundari: thanks, I don’t know what to say to such a kind comment! I feel the same way about your photographs. And thanks so much again for your support.

Andrea despot: oh don’t apologise, I enjoyed reading this. I was very much like you in high school, and university is where I finally started ‘living’, as you put it. Although writing can be difficult at times, it’s been one of my greatest sources of pleasure. I really don’t know what I’d do with myself if it was taken away from me. I’ll have to go read your San Francisco posts!

Olga: that’s incredibly kind, thank you.

Aldrin: eh, that’s ok, fame is what makes the world go round, apparently ;) but seriously, it’s no big deal.

Christine: go for it! There’s nothing to lose.

Siubhan: yes, I’m not a fan of megalomania as a form of comfort! And thanks :)

Rambling tart: I hope you enjoy it and join in the discussions :)

Tracey: yes, that’s the idea, to share and support. There’s too much competition and isolation involved in this, I’d like to make it a more ‘kind’ process.

Jazzy e: thanks!

Ispystyle: thanks for the vote! I would be happy to offer any useful tips – I haven’t really discussed the publishing process here, so maybe that’s something I could share.

Lizzie: oh thanks, that’s so sweet :)

Camila: oh thanks, that’s quite a compliment! Don’t get me wrong, I love Meet me at Mikes, although I haven’t read Miranda Kerr’s blog. I didn’t mean to put any other blog down, I was just pointing out a fact – they have a huge readership, and I don’t. I guess I was a bit confused as I thought this was judged on the writing. I should have been less naive when entering this contest!

Elizabeth: yes, feel free to join in, the discussions don’t have to be just about writing, but any creative process. I know that other professions can have the same level of isolation as writing.

Gracia: ah gracia, you always put things so wonderfully! It is hard putting yourself forward – I felt so presumptive entering this competition. I still do. But you have to try, right? Thanks always for your support. xo

thea said...

i'm with see hear say!

You're remarkable and will win soon :)
LOVE DYLAN THOMAS!!!!! It's amazing to see his writing space.




hila said...

thank you lovely thea, I doubt I'll win, but I sure do appreciate the support :)

I want a hut like Dylan's - where can we find one?