The Novel Ways of Our Doris

In April 2011 I joined the Macclesfield Creative Writing Group, a new writer’s group in my hometown. Over the last years I have written various snippets of prose that have arisen from the writing bursts we embark upon each week. I used to find writing freely for fifteen minutes incredibly difficult and one week in a burst of inspiration I started one of the writing bursts with the line, ‘Our Doris has developed an unhealthy obsession with slugs’ and wrote a page about a long-suffering husband who is relating his experiences in the form of a dramatic monologue. Over the next few weeks I began to write about Doris and her husband as she went about her day-to-day life, usually with the story relating to the writing burst we were given that week.

Doris grew into a character similar to Hyacinth Bucket with more curse words and the wherewithal to throw dictionaries at reporters who don’t stay on topic. A regular cast of characters grew and as time went on I had created an entire village of characters. These characters stick in my head like family as I remember each story they’ve related through Doris.

The first flash monologue was published in the group’s anthology Macc Writes back in 2012. Bread can be viewed on Youtube, and on this blog. Since that first monologue, I have performed more monologues around Cheshire, at chapels and libraries, Seven Miles Out in Stockport and most recently at Knutsford Library as part of their Writer’s Forum where I shared the floor with Madeleine Keefe, Mollie Blake, Zara Stoneley and Joy Winkler.

Now after almost four years of living with these characters, I am exceptionally pleased to announce that Our Doris will be a book.

In summer 2015, you will be able to read all about Doris’s endeavours to become fifth house in the local garden safari. You’ll get to meet Violet Grey, husband to the philandering Doug Grey. Doris’s mortal enemy, Janice Dooley of Little Street. And at the heart of it all you’ll meet ‘arold, the gentleman who tells of his wife’s endeavours; after fifty years he’s got a bit of an idea how to deal with her.

The monologues have been expanded, characters have been added and the plot has grown beyond anything I could have hoped for when I first wrote that paragraph of ‘Slugs’ back in 2011.

The book will be available to purchase via www.variousaltitudes.com and from certain independent book shops throughout Cheshire. Closer to the time of publication, I will hold readings where you’ll hear the monologues in action and have the opportunity to buy the book there and then.

Next week I will write about my decision to self-publish the book, but for now I want you to know that I am incredibly excited for the future. I hope that you all enjoy Our Doris because although the book has been difficult at times, and I have worried about my own skills, and despite the fact that life can so often get in the way, it has been an absolute pleasure to write.

Until next time that is all.

Doris Green Crooked Coming-page-001

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Are you Afraid of the Words?

At the moment, folk are being taught that in order for them to succeed they need to be scared of creating work. If you are to write a novel then you must fear each word you put down, you must be petrified of your characters, and you must worry about every thought subsequent readers have of the work.

This is the only way you will succeed as a writer.

It is all right to feel anxious. I have had many issues in the past with my own writing. I have documented them here, but I believe that we shouldn’t tell writers that they must be anxious because that’s what writers do – sit at home, feeling anxious and watching re-runs of Jeremy Kyle with a carton of Tropicana and a half-eaten custard cream.

We should tell writers how it feels to have completed a novel; remind them of the glow and the sense of worth. It is easy enough for writers to give up, without other people making them feel there’s no other option. I have left plenty of projects behind – years ago if you were to read this blog, you’d find plenty of posts about projects that never saw the light of day or were never completed.

When you’re writing it can be incredibly easy to forget why you started writing your work in the first place. Ideas are easy, it’s the execution that’s difficult, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t feel passion for the work. It doesn’t mean you should be scared of writing. It means you have to work harder to achieve something.

As a writer, you will be seen as lazy, you will be seen as a fool, and you’ll often be asked why. It will be brilliant. You are not lazy, you are determined. It would be foolish to leave the idea floundering in your mind, and not regret writing the book when it’s too late. And more often than not you’re writing because it hurts not to – there will be physical pain in your chest, and unfathomable sadness.

You should not be scared to write.

If you are passionate enough about a story that’s all you need. Throw all past ideas of difficulty out of your mind and write one word at a time. If you write just five hundred words a day, you can have fifty thousand words in three months. If you plot your novels that’s great, if you don’t plot that’s great as well. There is no right way to write. All writers have their own idiosyncrasies when it comes to how they write – it’s the best way to prove you’re individual.

Make a promise with yourself to complete your novel – the time span doesn’t matter. All that matters is finishing. It can be rough around the edges, it can be startlingly bad; it will be your novel, they will be your words and you will feel brilliant.

Until next time, that is all.