Once I sneaked past ‘O’ level (yes, yes, GCSE then) I liked exams. I also liked researching and writing essays, having written many in my time and, to be honest, achieving pretty decent marks. I am reasonably adept at putting together short reports/factual pieces for my hyperlocal website. When curious about a subject, I can also write a thought-provoking piece. I can spell, I can edit.
What I seriously cannot do is write fiction.
My one attempt at writing fiction was so closely based on real life people and facts as to be potentially libellous.
People tell me I need to write a stonking novel, a blockbuster, the kind that will make me rich. I need to be J.K.Rowling.
I quietly smile and agree that it is indeed a thought. However, I truly know that it will not happen, for while I very much enjoy reading fiction, it does not translate easily to paper. My brain doesn’t seem to work in that way.
I love a good novel. I can also enjoy abstract art and beautifully imaginative paintings. However, when it comes to ‘doing’, I am far better (though certainly not proficient) at life drawing which is based more on measurement, proportion, observation and accuracy. Arguably, since I studied sociology, the attraction of life drawing is merely a different representation of humanity, involving finely tuned observation skills. It does not require imagination, which it something I seem to lack. For, in life drawing, it is easy (and often acceptable) to ignore the details such as hands, feet and even faces.
In writing factually, much of the fine detail is lost. A factual report or writing of biography is not something Hardyesque. Writing about reality does not involve a convoluted plot. Talking to people on trains and recounting their stories does not require a fictional tale because they tell the story for me, and usually, the truth is strange enough.
My current research project (hopefully, for a book; definitely for a book) is about the life of Pamela Colman-Smith. Those who know me are already sick of hearing about it, but those who do not may not even know who she is. Never fear. The important part is what I am enjoying about uncovering the life of this person. The project involves lots of digging, reading, talking to people, gleaning, and surmising, but what it really does not require is too much imagination. Just up my street!
My advice: It’s good to try new things and to get out of your comfort zone, etc. However, it is also good to realise your strengths and play to them. If it isn’t in you, play around with ideas and see what happens, but don’t force it.