BOOKS ....... FREE STORIES ....... TALES OF TAM YS ....... ARCHIVE ....... EDITING ....... SARAH

writing what you love

I once heard a woman say that she was her own favourite photographer, because after all if she wasn't taking photographs she loved, what was the point?

It's a little different with writing, or at least it is for me. The element of freshness, of revelation, is an important part of what I love about reading a story, and I can't create that for myself (except during the writing process.) The courage of the reader; their surrender; their fragility before the inclinations of the author; their hopes and fears taken by that author and weighed, sometimes manipulated : it's all very beautifully scary. And it's missing when I read my own work. My favourite writers are those who give me that revelatory sense, sometimes over and again with the same book.

But I can say that, in general, and when I'm able to turn off my editing instinct, I do like my own stories. We're not really supposed to admit things like that, are we? But I guess it makes sense. After all, I write the stories I want to read, in the kind of language I love, with characters who interest me. If a story becomes boring to me, I simply stop writing it. And I know that no story is complete until it makes me, as its first reader, want to cry; until its final sentence lifts my heart.

(That isn't to say I believe my work is magnificent art, only that I like the stories I tell.)

My favourite story in The Coracle Sky is Wintering, although Aftermark comes a very close second because I like its characters so much. Some stories I've written over the years I will read back with a sense of satisfaction. Others I will avoid, their energy having shifted beyond what I needed or wanted at the time of writing (or their quality being frankly abysmal.) And others I will return to as a reader in simple enjoyment.

Maybe I can do this because I honestly believe the stories were given to me by something in the ether - the spirit of the tale itself, perhaps, or the so-called muse. There's no self-pride involved. Just a pleasure in story.

Do you look back with love or appreciation on the words you have written, or drawings you have made, or jewellry you have created? How do you feel about saying to yourself (or to other people), I like this. I value it. 


  1. I know where you are coming from Sarah. Although I only write for my own pleasure, most of what I write isn't what I would want to read - which is weird. Only one or two passages really touched my heart. I gave the draft to my friend to read and these were the ones that she remembered and pointed out to me - if only the rest of the book could have been the same. I think I concentrated too much on the story line and not enough on the words that I used. Maybe one day I will re-write it and will feel more satisfaction with the end result.

  2. I find it difficult to read what I've written, not because I don't like it, but because I'm afraid of it, or I judge it. I feel writing is teaching me a lot about facing myself, and finding a sense of peace and acceptance in what I'm creating.

  3. I think that any creation that's made from the heart will be able to touch others deeply. When it's my own work, I often find it difficult to love at first but after time, the love I put into it shines out back at me.xx

  4. i do at times...some of my poems, when i re-read them, give me the kind of odd deep shiver that means there is something good in a thing. that somehow i managed to "get it right", to convey what i meant to convey in the way i wished to do it. (and of course sometimes i get a different feeling entirely when re-reading the ones that didn't turn out so well.) and when i have made an artwork that i am pleased with, or knitted something in colors that delight the soul, or danced a dance with the right combination of precision and passion, then yes, i am most pleased with it. why should we not take pleasure in the things we make/do that are beautiful? no one would think it strange to love a child one has borne...are not these other creations as much a part of us and as worthy of delight?

  5. Beautiful photography. I like your idea. I'm okay with some of the things I draw or paint, but I have noticed that perfectionism inhibits. I will have to come back later and look at your new book. This month is always busy with piano, and Christmas, but I have extra due to trying to schedule P.T. for an aching hip and neck. I hope it is not too warm yet for you. It has been unusually cold here, and we had to wrap the tomatoes, herbs, and lettuce with cloth and Christmas lights beneath to keep them warm, and pick the citrus that is ready. xoxo Su

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  7. Beautifully said as ever, Sarah. I like the things that I write too, although often when I revisit things I can't really believe that I wrote them at all and then I get a tiny flush of pride that I did...but I'm still never sure that I can ever do it again. Writing is such a multi-layered experience, for writer and reader. I hope that I never stop reading the things that I write and liking them. As the photographer you quoted said, what would be the point in writing it then? xxx


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