Friday, 2 August 2013

Writing from where you're at.

There are all types of quotes like the one above trying to epitomise when you think that you can consider yourself to be a writer. I quite like the quote by Morgan Freeman (Monty Wildhorn) in The Magic of Belle Isle, after he'd listened to his young student describing a story based on something that she'd partly acted out with a friend. He said that she was showing 'good instincts'. 
If you go back to those who are described as literary giants they quite often wrote about where they had lived or traveled. I quite unashamedly do the same and friends who have bought and read my books recognise the places I have included in my stories. For those people who want to write and haven't dipped their toes in the water one strategy, if it fits, would be to describe a setting. See below.

The Hotel Room

I was somewhat concerned when the hotel I'd booked didn't have at least a plaque on the wall proclaiming its' existence. In fact finding Reception was an art! On top of that, when the very pleasant Italian lady behind the dark brown formica reception desk, handed me a key - yes a key not a credit card type - a brass key, slivers of doubt were tweaking at the edges of my brain about my hotel choice.
There was a lift. I climbed the three flights of marble stairs as, although I don't suffer from claustrophobia, that condition would have been induced if I'd tried to squeeze myself and the suitcase into that little box. The corridor on which my room was situated was painted what in the UK would have been described as 'hospital green' and the doors were brown plywood. The lock worked!
I stepped into the room and it was dark. The window over the street was open and the curtains drawn against the Roman afternoon sun. I dumped my case on the bed, opened the curtains and inspected my 'suite'.
There was an upright wooden chair next to a plywood wardrobe, a double bed and a door into a small bathroom. The 'hospital green' paint had obviously come by the tanker full! The shower unit was skin tight and made bending to wash the nether regions almost impossible. 
I stripped the bed and found a burn mark from an old cigarette in the top sheet and the wiring on the headboard for charger and bedside light was in place, I knew that because it was all visible! The socket was so loose that the charger wouldn't stay in place. Needless to say I didn't dare use that facility.
I had four nights in this rather unkempt, but clean, little box and slept well enough.


As an exercise the above can be quite valuable, but for people who haven't yet dived into the writing pool, it is accessible and you have full control. Those of us who are already in the swim may have produced a useful paragraph for a future story.
As an aside the above was a room I booked this year and the paragraph may well figure in a future Steele novel. I didn't write, then edit, then re-write the short description it is s first draft. So don't worry if you don't know what to write use what you have inside you.

God Bless