The Writer’s Circle #23 – Baking Scones

These were the kind of discussion days that Deidre loathed: talking about how you wrote rather than what you wrote – she lost her edge in such conversations.  Everybody knew that she was the Circle’s only properly published author, so she could speak about what she wrote with some kind of authority – and she did like authority – but how one goes about the task of writing, the fundamentals of putting words down onto paper, well, no two authors are the same and that meant that everybody else’s opinion became just as valid as her own.  Not a situation she relished.  “I just think,” she said, “that as long as you have the idea: as long as you know where you are and where you’re going, then everything will fall into place.”
“And when you don’t have the ideas?” asked Phil.
“Then perhaps you shouldn’t be writing,” said Deidre.
“Steve Martin said that Writer’s Block is ‘a fancy term made up by whiners so they can have an excuse to drink alcohol,’” said Frankie.  “It always works for me.”
“Sometimes it’s not even the ideas,” said Phil.  “It’s the words.  I can spend days just beating myself up over words.  Which to use, which to avoid, which words at least  sound as if I haven’t had to wring them out of the dictionary with my bare hands?”
“I find that a cup of tea normally hits the button,” said Elizabeth.  “It’s not the tea; it’s the making of it, that’s the key.  Making the decision that I’m wasting my time just staring at the computer: the thought that at least making tea is achieving something.  It’s the routine of it.  I leave my desk, I make my tea and I return to my desk with it.  If I can’t write then, I just watch cats on YouTube.”
“Sometimes,” said Billy, “It’s a physical pain.  Like you have to drag the words out your guts.”
“Have you ever had a proper job?” asked Frankie.
“Sometimes I find it helps to write down a list of what I want to say,” said Penny.
“I always know what I want to say,” said Jane.  “It’s just… how do I want to say it.”
“It’s sometimes about finding just the right word,” agreed Penny.
“Especially when it has to rhyme with ‘goldfinch’,” muttered Deidre.
“Sometimes,” said Louise, “I go back to what I wrote the day before and I just write it all out again in the hope that when I reach the end of it I will just keep going.”
“And does that work?” asked Jane.
“No,” said Louise.  “If I’m honest.  More often than not I read what I wrote the day before and realise what a load of tripe it is.  Makes me realise that not being able to write might not be such a bad thing.”
Jeff shuffled a little uncomfortably in his chair aware that he almost certainly had little to contribute, but decided, none-the-less, to join in the conversation.  “When I can’t think of what to write, I just write about nothing.  I can write about nothing for days.”
“Frankie’s done that for years,” said Phil with a laugh.
“I wish I could argue,” said Frankie.  “It’s a gift; like being pitch perfect.  Some people never have to wonder whether they’re in tune when they sing.  Me, I can write meaningless drivel without even thinking about it.  I’m Jeffrey Archer without the bank balance.  What about you Tom, what do you do when you can’t write?”
“I’m like Jeff, I think; I just write anyway, to spite it.  When I was in… When I first started to write I always had set ideas of what I wanted to say, but it didn’t take long for me to realise how lifeless it all was.  Mostly now, when I can’t write, I just read.  It’s something I have always had lots of time for.”
“You make it sound like a prison sentence,” said Vanessa, unaware of the fleeting look of unease that flitted across Tom’s features.  “Nobody makes us write, any of us.  We write because we want to.  We write because we think we have something to say.  We write because, secretly, we would all very much like to be ‘the next big thing’.  All you have to do when you can’t say what you want to say is to find another way of saying it.  More often than not, I have too many ideas.  I just can’t line them up.  They’re like kids: I can’t get them all to sit down at the same time.  I can never make them all face in the same direction.  If I had just one – I’d pick the best one, of course – it would be no problem.  It would follow me around, do whatever I asked of it, but as soon as I have two ideas, they start chatting amongst themselves, playing games, and I can never get them to do what I want them to do.  Sometimes my head is buzzing with ideas and the only thing I can do is to find a way of getting rid of most of them.  I can’t drink tea – it makes my tongue fur – so I usually drink coffee and that’s the worst thing I can do.  I’ve never seen the attraction of water.  Why would you deliberately consume something that has absolutely no taste?  It would be like going to a Roy Chubby Brown concert on your wedding night.  So I bake scones.  They’re not good scones; most of the time they’re very bad scones, but the process occupies my mind.  You can’t worry about who is going to say what when you’ve got scones in the oven.”
“When I don’t know what to say,” said Terry, “I just employ another ghost writer.”
“Right, well, that’s all very useful I’m sure,” cut in Deidre with an audible sigh.  “So, has anybody actually written anything at all to read to us tonight?”

The Writer’s Circle began with ‘Penny’s Poem’ here.
The last episode was ‘The Price of Perceptibility’ is here.
Episode 24 ‘Redemption (part one) is here.


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