An author!

I was asked last night how people react when you say that, yes, you’re an author.  I had to acknowledge that there is still a certain mystique about it.  Even before they’ve read the book, which after all might be boring or badly written, folk are impressed.  Maybe it’s the mere fact that you finished the darned thing.  Or perhaps there is still a fascination with the idea that you have spun it out of yourself like a spider weaving a web.   ‘Dead Horse’ (see below) is non-fiction aimed at a particular market.  But my writing life started early on with poems for the school magazine, some freelance work for newspapers – and drama.

Because I tend to think in conversations, I’ve always been comfortable writing dialogue.  Early in my teaching career, I ran the school drama activities so when a group of former pupils came to visit me one sunny day in May (I had for the time being exchanged teaching for looking after my baby daughter) I agreed to write them a play.  For the Edinburgh festival fringe.  That season. 

In my folly, I thought a documentary drama would be easier – I wouldn’t have to make stuff up.  The naivety of it.  It was of course harder, for reasons which are obvious enough.   Reasons like research, selection, organisation and the challenge of doing justice to a real life situation while maintaining dramatic tension…you get the point.   But it got written and performed.  It was called Gatito and told the story of Gabrielle Russier, a French teacher who took her life having been imprisoned as the result of an affair with a pupil -‘detournement d’un mineur’.  The context was the upheaval of ‘les evenements’, the French student uprising of 1968.  I went on to write plays for a number of years before a professional commission came along.  Thus began a period of playwriting which culminated in a show at The Traverse theatre in Edinburgh. 

I’ve returned to drama in the last couple of years and a short play has been accepted for publication in an anthology for schools.  It’s to come out in the autumn so I’ll say more nearer the time.   To write it, I pinched material from my as yet unfinished novel -yes, I’ve got one of those too. which takes me to today’s tip.  Recycle!  Anything you’ve written may be reused, reshaped, presented in a different format.   If it’s a good enough method for Shakespeare, it’s good enough for me.

2 Responses to “An author!”

  1. 1 chris June 1, 2007 at 12:44 pm

    Have you ever said “I’m a poet”? And do you ever feel qualms about owning these titles – the wee demon on the shoulder? Or does the fact that you’ve been “properly” published alter that bit?

  2. 2 alisonwriting June 1, 2007 at 1:27 pm

    Having left a reply, I then managed to reject my own comment as spam! Ah well, if at first…

    I don’t tend to say ‘I’m a poet’ because only on occasions do I reckon my verse ‘counts’ as poetry -a discussion to be had there perhaps. When I crack how to post in verse format, readers can make up their own minds as to whether I’m a poet!
    I have put ‘writer’ in the past when asked for my occupation; and I’m comfortable to call myself a dramatist.
    As to ‘proper’ publication, yes it does make a difference though the distinction between ‘proper’ and other modes are becoming increasingly blurred. Which is good. Caveat emptor – or lector (?)

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