Tuesday, January 25, 2011

history versus story

As I approach the end of my MA, I start to wonder about what it will be like when I have the time and energy to write fiction again.

I've been writing history for so long now that I suspect it has completely changed the way I approach creative writing. Maybe in some ways for the better. I've had to learn to be more concise. But I definitely think my writing will be a lot more ... dry at first. I try to write history in an attractive way, but I definitely have an academic style, and it will be strange to start breaking rules again. I just hope I can overcome what has been drummed into me by academics for the past six years.

But something that I will be fascinated to find out is whether doing a MA will have helped me overcome my aversion to writing an extended piece of work. I've planned, and planned, and planned. I've researched. I've rewritten. I've learned the value of simply trying to get an idea down, without worrying too much about the prose at first. And I will come out at the end of it all with a piece of writing that is over 50,000 words long - longer than any original writing I've ever done before.

Is it different, though? A thesis has the benefit of being based around facts, and so all your material is there to work with. It has the difficulty that if something isn't working in the way you structure it, you still need to base it around those facts. Writing a novel, on the other hand, has the benefit that you are the Boss. If things aren't working - you make something up. Its difficulty, however, is that everything in it is supposed to magically appear from your imagination. And what if I find that all my hard work has been completely useless when it comes to sitting down and trying to write a novel?

Maybe the elusive answer is this: to write a historical novel.

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