Friday, 1 January 2010

Coffee Break: Experience

HAPPY NEW YEAR!! May I firstly say what an honour it is to be picked to do the first blog post of 2010!!! I have some left over turkey sarnies and mulled wine. There’s a little bit of bucks fizz and as this is a coffee morning I have laid out some coffee (there’s Baileys in it!!).

This is my first Friday coffee, and may I say I am quite excited to be here. I hope you aren’t all too hung over from the festivities last night. I myself am not a fan of New Year and I refuse, I tell you refuse to pay £5 to get into my LOCAL!! Rant over, sorry for shouting.

The topic for the first day of the year is Experience. What will 2010 bring? I myself am scared of pretty much everything. I am a worrier. But, as a writer I worry that turning down an experience will only hinder my writing in the long run. Despite my hatred of New Year I still went out and had a good night. There’s maybe a short story in that or a scene in a future novel I may write. I have also just been to Edinburgh which I loved but I did not want to do the dungeon tour (lots of people jumping out at you and being left alone in the dark – not good for someone with a nervous disposition like me). But, not wanting to miss an experience I went anyway. I can now imagine what its like to be so scared you have to stop yourself from crying into your boyfriend’s new coat.

Tomorrow is moving day and after experiencing a house move 7 times in the last 10 years I can honestly say there will be nothing new to me there. But then again…

So, how important do you think it is to have first hand experience of something?

Is there anything you are planning to do for your art this year?

Would you jump out of a plane if it made writing about it more authentic?


Debs said...

Happy New Year to you too. I've just bitten my tongue (such a berk) so will decline anything to eat for now thanks.

I don't think you have to experience things first hand, but do feel that some sort of essence of the experience needs to be included, if at all possible, to make it become real to the reader.

Having said that, I'm starting a new book today and this year will be taking a trip that I hope will help me make the story as real as possible.

Amanda said...

Hi Lily - I'll have a coffee thank you - no Baileys though - I'm just a teeny bit hungover :-)

I think experience does help with your writing - especially experiening the emotions a character may feel. I remember one day feeling very upset about something and decided to write down exactly the emotions I was feeling as I was feeling them. (Does that make me a little odd?) ;-) - It came in really handy for one of my characters!

Happy New Year!

liz fenwick said...

Last question first - no, I wouldn't but experience does help in a way but I don't think is essential all the time otherwise I would worry deeply about crime writers let alone myself and what I put some of my characters through.

I think all things we experience in life flow into our writing whether we want it to or not. It colours and shades all different aspects of our writing.

Lily your question made me think of the novel I wrote for my senior thesis at uni - in it there is a child birth scene...I read it now and smile. I didn't have a clue nut that isn't always a bad thing. In it I focus on different things which a a mother of three I wouldn't recall at all yet the scene wasn't badly written as I done my research.

So no jumping out of planes or killing people for me although I might be tempted to have a fling with say the likes of Rob Patterson just makes sure I could capture all the details :-)

On that thought Happy New Year to all - here to a fantastic writing year and otherwise for us all.

Where is that coffee and Baileys?

liz fenwick said...

Forgot to say one of the things I'm doing for my writing is going to the York Festival of Writing in April - anyone else going?

B said...

York Festival of Writing?! I'll have to look that up. Sounds good, and I used to live in York, so......!

Karen said...

Happ New Year Lily, but I'll pass on the turkey sarnies if you don't mind :o))

Experience - especially emotional - does help give your writing more depth I think, but isn't essential if your imagination (and research!) is up to scratch. I had a short story published last year about a woman who did a parachute jump, but you wouldn't catch me doing one if my life depended on it! I think it came across ok :o)

Fia said...

Happy New Year to you Lily and the rest of the gang.

What a great first post too but if you don't mind I'll pass on the turkey sandwiches. The coffee with Baileys is very tempting.

I think the more experiences the better although I wouldn't do anything too frightening these days. But I would, and did, do almost anything in my mis-spent youth and only wish I'd kept more records of this. However you can research almost anything and then you only have to imagine the scene. That's the theory anyway.

L-Plate Author said...

Happy New Year everyone!

I'm with Liz, I suppose I have to be as I'm a crime writer. What I put my characters through would completely floor me, I wouldn't be able to deal with those issues.

I do a lot of research before I start a novel, I'm researching self harm at the moment (ouch - literally). So for me, experience comes from age I suppose, and living life, but my character's experiences, for some, are true to life so some subjects can be written about more easily than others.

And no, I wouldn't jump out of a plane, scared of heights me ;)

Leatherdykeuk said...

Happy New Year.

There are plenty of things I wouldn't do to write about them. I write about demons, mostly...

Lane said...

Hi Lily. A dash of Baileys would be most welcome.

I would never ever jump out of a plane or do anything overtly scary for my 'art'. Too much of a cowardy custard these days and prefer to keep the adrenaline levels low:-)

I was looking through last year's notebooks and surprised by all the little things I'd already forgotten. So my aim this year, is to just keep recording the small stuff. You never know when you might need it.

Happy New Year Racers.

Annieye said...

Happy New Year to you - and it was £12 to get into our local, so we didn't bother!

Just had my tea with a cup of hot chocolate, so I won't have anything to eat or drink, thanks.

I think experience of life makes us better writers, so it sort of follows that experiencing things as research should do the same. I don't think it does, though. It's like ploughing through a book you don't like just to say you've read it. The books you can't put down are unforgettable, though. So I would say have the experience if it's something you really want to do anyway. If not I would give it a miss.

HelenMHunt said...

I could do with going to Paris as research for a couple of chapters in my novel, but I can't afford it. Instead, I'll have to rely on the internet, books and any memories I can dredge up from a visit years ago.

So I think, in the end, it comes down to what's practical. And, no - I wouldn't jump out of a plane!

Liane Spicer said...

Happy New Year, everyone. Coffee with Baileys sounds just about right. Thank you.

I had an art teacher at college who used to go on and on about experiencing things for the sake of your art. I cornered him one day and asked if he seriously thought I'd get drunk and roll in the gutter to paint such a scene authentically. He backed off a bit and said that he did not mean that it should always be actual experience, but vicarious experience as well. I suppose he meant research and imagination.

So, there you have it. I'm all for experience, even if it involves jumping out of planes (she says with a straight face). But there are limits. I'm not going to mainline cocaine to write about a drug addict authentically.

Serendipity said...

Happy New Year wishes to you - I think I've had enough turkey to last me round till next Christmas but thanks anyway! Coffee and Baileys... now you're talking :-)

Would I jump out of a plane to enrich my novel writing if my scene called for it... nope - I'm far too chicken (oh no not more poultry please!) But I do believe we use our life experiences in whatever we write, people we meet, places we go etc. I definitely write 'safely', I do tend to stick with what I know possibly because I do not feel qualified to venture down the adventurous genre paths - sci-fi etc (or is it because I'm too lazy to do the research? Okay - don't answer that!);-)

Denise said...

Happy New Year! (Hope the moving held no surprises) Writing science fiction does excuse me researching a lot of experiences, but I still seem to end up with a long list of things I really need to know more about - e.g. Can I really have people absorbing a drug from a membrane in their neck...

I think you can write about a lot of things without experience if you focus on something you do know about, like the resulting emotion from that event.

Definitely no on the plane jumping, gives me the shivers just considering it! (Which rules me out on researching any spaceships either...)

ChrisH said...

Sorry to be late to this; the last of my festive season visitors are now on their way home. I've lots of reasons to be excited about 2010 - no, I don't think you have to experience things first to write about them so long as you write truthfully... so I've booked an exciting trip early this year to get that authentic feeling. YAY!

Here's wishing you all a very happy and successful New Year.

LilyS said...

Sorry, I am a bit late with my reply. I have just moved house and have had no tinternet :( So now have first hand experience of being cut off from the world arrrgggghhhh! Still, gave me a good reason to want to come back to work!

Thank you all for such a great response to my v. first post. It makes me feel better about turning down the bad stuff and saying yes to all the good stuff :)

And what did we do before google?? maybe that can be my next topic lol

LilyS said...

Oh and sorry Liz I drank all the Coffee and Baileys :S

Flowerpot said...

very late here sorry - I go along wiht Lane. Writing down things is a great idea as we forget so many things. And yes to experience them is good but we have imaginations as well dont we? That's why we're writers!

Kate Lord Brown said...

Hello Lily - happy new year everyone! Also been out of touch, hope everyone had a good one.

No, don't think you need to experience things to write about them as long as you can empathise (or research). Read that Janette Winterson wrote about Venice without ever visiting. *However* look forward to the day when I can insist on extended stay in Venice/Cuba/Bali (insert destination as you wish) for research and can claim expenses :) ha!

As for 2010 hope it brings us all closer to our writing dreams x

CC Devine said...

Am extremely late!

I agree with Liane and her teacher in that actual experience is important but so is vicarious experience and I do alot of that as well proper old-fashioned research!