In 2015 I joined a local writers’ group. It had been several years since I had done any serious writing and I had just begun getting back into the swing of writing something each day when I noticed an advert for the group in a free magazine. For the first year I took along short pieces which I had written over the years and sometimes wrote about one of the suggested topics listed for a meeting. It was a really excellent set of writers, with a range of abilities although fairly close in ages. It became the highlight of my fortnights.
After a while I began to feel my writing was becoming a little staid, especially when I attempted to write longer pieces, say up to 1500 or 2000 words. Grammatically my writing was fine, but the sentences seemed very ordinary to me. I was fine writing 500 words with an unexpected twist at the end but trying to develop ideas and characters further seemed to be beyond me.
The turning point was when I watched the movie ‘On The Road’, only made a few years ago but based on Jack Kerouac’s book from the 1950s. I wanted to write a piece about the movie for the writers’ group and initially I was quite pleased with my attempt. I had put in a lot of the ideas and atmosphere I’d seen in the film and yet it didn’t seem to flow like the movie did. The film was about a group of young people driving backwards and forwards across America looking for a reason to their lives, my writing seemed to lose that sense of movement.
So, I began to play around with the sentences. I removed many full-stops and inserted commas instead in an attempt to increase the sense of flow to the writing. As I did this I realised the writing was becoming more poetical in its form. I had been impressed by one of my fellow writers at the group who used alliteration so effectively in her poems so I began to add similar words in my writing about the movie.
When I presented the piece at the next group meeting I was very pleased with the reaction. And I felt I had written something different, something in a style which was mine, something more than just stitching a stream of words together into conventional sentences. I continued adapting and developing the style in the next few pieces I produced for the meetings, some worked well, others less so. There was one more change to take place, and it occurred in the last piece I wrote before Christmas 2015. It would change my writing life and lead to two novellas being written about a subject and a location I could never have foreseen.