What I loved about the online writing course that I did with Jeremy Shipp, (don't forget to follow him on Twitter @JeremyCShipp) is that I was creatively stretched. I was taken out of my comfort zone and had to write about things I had previously never even given any thought to.
I am not a particularly big fan of gnomes or goblins. In fact, even as a child I wasn't overly keen on fairies. I didn't seeks out these kinds of books and unlike some of my friends, I wasn't collecting kitch fairy ornaments or hanging them from my bedroom ceiling.
So, for me having to write something that would include fantasy figures, was totally new and I had no previous experience to fall back on.
But let me tell you what happened. I loved it! I now see that genre in a totally different light too and I learnt so much about writing and about myself. One of the pieces that was part of the course had to include Charlie the Gnome (with some details that were given to us). This is what I wrote:
Charlie was already regretting agreeing to go out with Jack the Pixie. Jack had said they’d find a quiet pub and just have a pint, but now Jack was mumbling about going to see The Gnome People, and Jack knew that Charlie didn’t like hard rock. Charlie was not very good at saying no, so he trailed behind Jack, down dark alleyways that had rats scuttling into rubbish bags that had been dropped against the walls. He almost screamed as a bat swooped down low, nearly touching his head.
He could hear the thump-thump-thump of the music getting closer. The club entrance was through a tiny door that hundreds of gnomes and pixies were trying to squeeze through. It was stuffy inside with no windows to open. and it stank. It stank of everyone’s smelly, hot breaths and Charlie felt like he could be sick.
He couldn’t move and the noise of the music was thumping deep into his head. Jack had disappeared shouting over his shoulder to Charlie he’d be back in five minutes and that was half an hour ago. The music was so loud Charlie felt like the concert was going on in his brain.
The dancing floor was crowded and a fairy was trying to talk to him, but Charlie couldn’t hear a word she was saying and he didn’t want to stand any closer, because her breath stank like rats tails and that made Charlie think of the dark alleyways that he was going to have to go through again to get home.
Charlie couldn’t take it anymore. The noise and stink was making him feel dizzy and ill. He would need to find his way to the tiny door and get out of there. He fought his way through the crowds and finally found the tiny door. He squeezed out into the cold night air. He was terrified of walking home on his own, but going back into the club was even scarier. There was nothing to do, except just to put one foot in front of the other and to keep walking.
Now, I know this isn't anything wow, not something that I can submit, but that's not the point really.
The point is that I wrote something that I've never written before and had to think about writing something that I've never thought of writing before.
The strange thing is, I actually started to like Charlie and started thinking about him more and wondered after he had left the pub, how his trip home went and where did he live and what did his house look like and what did his room look like and what music did he listen to (we already know he can't stand rock).....and so it carries on.
And now - I have a file on my laptop named Charlie. I don't have a plan with Charlie at the moment. I'm just writing bit by bit, so who knows - he might never make it out into the big, scary world of publishing, but again - that's not the point.
Writing is about discovering parts of ourselves that we never knew existed, developing new interests and generally pushing ourselves all the time.
This can be a frustrating, hair-pulling, head-bashing-on-keyboard kind of experience, but man, it's wonderful to be a writer!