Monday, April 22, 2013

Risky Business

I was asked by the wonderful folk at Writers & Artists (yes, the people behind the excellent Yearbook) to write a blog post about taking risks in writing, following comments I made when awarding the prizes in their short story competition last month. The article, Risky Business, is here, and here is a snippet:
....Why should writers take risks? Well, I would argue that it's not just for the benefit of a reader or a competition judge. What are we doing this for, this writing thing? For me, it's about trying to make sense of the world in some way, and uncertainty is an inherent quality of existence...
There is no comment facility on the article but I'd love to hear about your experiences of permission and risk, do leave a comment here!


Anonymous said...

I can write reasonably but I'd say I'm struggling to find my voice. It's about finding things that seem to break 'the rules' yet have still been successful which give me confidence to try new things.
I've loved reading the Brautigan short story book 'Revenge of the Lawn' because they're different from most of the competition entries I see - they seem more organic, less crafted / worked and many of the endings are almost throwaway rather than expertly worked. It's a sign (for me) not to try to over-engineer and over-polish everything even in a short story. That's a risk but also a opportunity to do something that represents me more as a writer and maybe become a little more productive.

Anonymous said...

It's hard to push the boundaries and take risks. I think many writers suffer from a fear of being judged by what they write and err on the side of caution. I have heard many writers say they worry about the shock factor or of readers thinking that any narration reflects, in part, their own views. With my current book I am trying to write as though noone will ever read it and it's really freeing. Some of my favourite writing is challenging me to step up and raise my game and not to worry about the reaction. As Matt Haig would say, 'write as though your mother will never read it.'
I really enjoyed your extract from the W&A article. Looking forward to reading more. Well done.

Tania Hershman said...

Hi Pete,
it's a process that i think most writers go through, I am only feeling I am finding my voice now, and that's after 15 years. I suspect for me anyway it's about silencing the other voices (the Inner Critic) first! I am so glad Revenge of the Lawn is doing it for you, it does something to me, I read and re-read those stories, giving me little shots of permission. Will be sending you another #HershmanRecommends whenever you're ready ;)

Fiona, that's a really interesting point, about worry of being judged and also that readers will think it's autobiographical. I guess that all feeds the Inner Critic and gives him/her the louder voice. Getting over that fear might come with publication, as slowly slowly a writer tries something slightly slightly new and then gets bolder. I think that's how it has worked for me. And - as you're doing- one of the best pieces of advice I ever got from a writing tutor was to stick a piece of paper over my writing desk saying "No-one will ever read this". It helps!