On Spinning Plates

th-2I’m in full swing at last, so I’ll keep this week’s blog post brief, if you don’t mind. After being a writing machine for roughly two years, I’ve wallowed in a writing funk for the last month. Every time I thought my block had passed, I lost focus, digressed and did something other than write. Ordinarily, I’m a writer who not only wants to write everyday, but needs to. Not writing leaves me edgy, unsettled, and that’s been my general feeling for the last few weeks.

However, on Monday I began to turn a corner in the rewriting and revision of my collection of short stories. I was determined to write through this block by hook or crook. I sat in the library, put Bob Dylan in my ears, and typed. It worked. I produced over 1000 words and have been on a roll ever since. Even today, with the kids and the housework, I managed nearly two thousand words, not counting these. I pray that I’m now officially out of my funk and unblocked at last. Not long to go before I have to hand in my folio and get this MA; I don’t have time to dry up now.

Has the funk served a purpose? Absolutely. As previous blog posts show, I’ve been thinking obsessively about my stories and processing what I need to do in order to make each of them work. It has, therefore, been thankfully useful. 

My supervisor, at our recent meeting in Newtown, described writing a collection of short stories as spinning plates. You get one spinning, that is, write a first draft, and you think, well that’s marvellous. Then you move on to get the next one spinning, then the next. Subsequently, with what you’ve learnt in writing that third one, you realise that the first plate is dangerously wobbly, so you go back, and spin it some more. Then the next one is wobbly, so you have to spin that some more. Then you write another first draft of a story; another plate to spin. And so on until you keep going back and forth between plates, spinning them, and tightening them and revving them up some. Then you get to the point where all the plates are spinning just as you want, and you take a picture, and that’s your collection done – that one picture in that one perfect moment. My supervisor, in passing on this fantastic analogy, missed out the bit when the plates come crashing to the ground once you’ve finished the trick.th-1

At the moment, I have all my plates spinning, but they are all wobbly and flawed. I know what each should look like by the end, but I don’t know if I’m a good enough writer to get them there.

Tell you what though: I’m going to give it a bloody good go.

I’m sorry, but I’m going to get back to writing fiction now. I’m currently rewriting a story about a Drama teacher who’s becoming increasingly unhinged during a lesson about Measure for Measure, and it’s all getting very interesting and inappropriately sexual.

Have a good week, Reader, and may either your pen be fluent or your block be of use.

Happy spinning!

One thought on “On Spinning Plates

  1. What a great analogy for your writing project. It works pretty well for non-writers who are balancing, or trying to balance their time between projects. I’m glad the ink, do to speak, is glowing again. Good luck putting that block far behind you and congratulations on finding some benefit in it.

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