Focus

The writers on the Creative Writing MA at West Dean College are reshaping their work in different forms. Some have chosen to explore screenplay; some poetry; others are working in the radio play format. I am tackling a theatre play – in much the same way that my first forays into gardening involved equal parts of enthusiasm and ignorance. My initial attempts have pruned a story set in Scoresby Nab right down to the bare stems – a very useful exercise. I’ve had to hack away all sorts of extraneous matter. But now it needs to grow.

It is abundantly clear to me that it needs a clear framework. Storytelling in any form is about how you choose to reveal the sequence of events – but you first must have a sequence. I am learning oh so slowly how to intertwine one story strand with another. It’s pruning rambler roses all over again: which to tie in, which to cut back hard, which diseased shoots must just go.

Add in to that the Head Gardener standing over me and my secateurs just come to a halt.

Self-consciousness must be like honey fungus. Its evil rhizomorphs lurk, waiting to spread into any crack . Then the mycellium of despair get in and you’re done for. According the RHS, the only prevention is a physical barrier – and I hope concentration will act like that for thought.

So my intent is to persist, following the Head Gardener’s patient instructions, doing just one bit at a time. It might be slow and painstaking but my ambition is to understand. I want to be able to do it for myself.

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