May 18th, 2012


Just a big complicated puzzle

Something an LJ friend said (in a locked post, so I won't link) helped me to look at writing in a completely different way. S/he likened writing a novel to solving a really complex and wonderful puzzle. And a little light bulb clicked on in my brain. If I look at novels in that way, writing a novel can be its own justification. Whether or not it's ever published is simply a side issue.

I do love solving puzzles. I'm not a big crossword fan and I've never taken to sudoku, largely because once I've worked out how to do that type of puzzle, it simply becomes repetitive. Partly it's because I like my puzzles a bit less artificial. The messier and more complex the better!

The puzzle-solving aspect was the part of the civil service job that I enjoyed most. My colleagues hated what we called 'site cases'. Churches were entitled to grants for building a school on a piece of land that they owned. It could get very complicated because they might have bought a large parcel of land and only part of it was going to be used for a school. Sometimes they tried to claim grant on the same piece of land more than once! Someone therefore had to track everything back and find out the history of the piece of land in question. Documents and plans could go back decades and files could be several inches thick, but I loved sorting it all out and presenting everything concisely and clearly. Similarly, I looked on teaching as a puzzle-solving activity, namely you have information or a skill you have to convey to other people, what is the best way to break it down so they can assimilate it most easily?

So transferring this insight to writing fiction, I've always thought of myself as a story-teller and therefore if I couldn't get my stories published, which meant there was no audience, there was no point in writing them down. But if I look on it purely as a huge puzzle and a mental exercise to keep my brain active, I can stop worrying about publication. Suddenly writing has a point again and isn't just a self-indulgence and a waste of time. :)

[Cross-posted from Dreamwidth by way of a backup If you want to leave a comment, please use whichever site you find most convenient. Comments so far: comment count unavailable.]
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Brith by Helen in Wales
Brith, a photo by Helen in Wales on Flickr.

20/52 for the group T189ers weekly alphabet challenge.

This week's theme was: Jump

Here is Brith, the dog I walk as a volunteer with the Cinnamon Trust. He is part collie, part lurcher. It's not a trick of the light, his eyes are actually different colours. One is blue and the other is brown.

He is, however, clearly sitting, not jumping! :) Due to having an exam this week plus the final assignment for the OU children's literature course, I have had to go with another off-topic shot. I didn't have much time and just had to grab what I could with my phone whilst doing other things.

I'm pleased to say that Brith is becoming less nervous on our walks and is starting to listen to me, despite the distractions of being in a strange place. He did sit and stay for me while I took a few photos.

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Diptych -- Dog walking

Diptych -- Dog walking by Helen in Wales
Diptych -- Dog walking, a photo by Helen in Wales on Flickr.

20/52 for the group 52 of 2012

This week's theme was: Diptych with another member

I seriously contemplated going for a proper collaboration this year, but as I had an exam this week, plus the final essay to write for the OU children's literature course, I decided that I'd better not because I would either let someone down or end up seriously stressing myself trying to get something decent.

So, I have once again taken the opportunity to collaborate with myself, or perhaps I could say I have collaborated with Brith, the dog I walk as a volunteer with the Cinammon Trust?

Brith and I are collaborating, though not on photography. :) Because I've committed to walking him three times a week, he ensures that I go out and get some exercise. Meanwhile I'm helping him be less nervous about the things we meet.

So this diptych is Brith and a lane that we often walk down. Both photos were taken with my phone.