My proposal is due. I can think of at least 20 storylines – imagination has never been a problem – but none of them tick all the boxes. It has to be tellable within 6000 words, be interesting, have tension, three dimensional characters, mean something or say something. The “Write what you know” cliché pops into my head. Is that true? Only write what you know… that might be OK when I’m 94 and have accumulated a lifetime of experience but what about now. First epiphany, write what you know doesn’t restrict you to what you have directly experienced; it is drawing on what you have experienced to imagine what you might have experienced.
Next light globe moment was the “How to” from reading Kate Grenville’s memoir How I Wrote the Secret River in which she talks about the techniques she used to develop ideas from her experiences. Combined, these moments lead to me settling on a storyline; I would use my experience of travelling the Gibb River Road in the Kimberley and the people we met.
I open a word doc and very neatly type the heading and all the details a Uni assignment demands, and that was as far as I got. I had no idea where to start. Is this writer’s block? Am I already experiencing this much vaunted ailment of writers, on my first page of my first story? No. I am suffering from stupidity. I don’t know why I thought that my normal creative process wasn’t needed for writing when clearly it was. No matter what I am creating I start with a design, a framework of what I intend to do and I like them to be visual. I use software to create diagrams, flow charts and storyboards. From there the ideas and details are hung or suspended on the framework until they are in their correct position, just like arranging flowers or hanging a painting in your lounge. I started with a chronology based timeline of my trip and then played with people, places and events to suit. It highlighted many concerns and issues that had to be dealt with. For example, writing about Aboriginal people and their beliefs – not my culture and not my story. How do I write about them without sounding trite or clichéd? I hope I have achieved this.