Writing Babies


I’m pregnant again! About twenty weeks, I think - I can even feel the baby moving! But, before my grown-up children faint or anyone starts knitting booties, I should explain that it’s only my subconscious mind at work. Every time I start to feel excited about a new writing project my nights are filled with vivid dreams about various stages of pregnancy. By the time I’d finished the rewrite of ‘Fighting the Tide’ I’d even given birth to twins!

The other recurring dream I have is one that crops up when I’m trying to find a solution to a plot problem. In that case I suddenly come across a secret room in my house which was hidden to me before but which is crammed with all kinds of treasures. It’s quite a difficult dream as the room is usually hard to access and frightening to enter but when I wake up I’m always in the right frame of mind to find the answer to what’s bugging me.

All this frantic nocturnal activity has been sparked off by me making a start on my OU short story. It’s undoubtedly a fault on my part but I’m not a great fan of short stories, reading or writing. To me, they fall into two broad categories, ‘cosies’ or ‘crazies’ ie popular or literary fiction. For example, I love Margaret Atwood but have you read ‘Hairball’? (1992, Wilderness Tips, Virago), I mean, bleurgh!

Anyway, after a great deal of procrastination, I ended up setting the timer for twenty minutes and just writing. Then I repeated the exercise and came up with 800 words of utter drivel and put it away. In the meantime ideas started to fall into place so I started again and wrote 500 words which became the foundation for my short story, hence the pregnancy dream.

Of course, everyone who advised me to just keep writing when I was stuck recently was right; it’s not until you’ve written anything (in my case, complete dross) that your mind starts making connections and you start to see with where the pieces fit. For any work to arrive ‘whole’ is quite rare, unfortunately. For our latest tutorial we were invited to write a 300 hundred word short story from a choice of opening lines and it tumbled out just like that – if only it always happened so easily!

Painting is 'Dusk' by Tom Tomos

Comments

Flowerpot said…
I quite agree about short stories, and yet I quite enjoy writing them. Your pregnancy dream sounds great Chris - a real birth in all kinds of ways, though I did start when I read the opening sentence. Great one! So glad you've got going again - keep at it.
Edward said…
Short stories! Compare the masters (Saki, Katherine Mansfield, Somerset Maugham) with modern exponents such as Jhumpa Lahiri, who couldn't write a short story if her life depended on it.

Enough grumpy old git. Like Flowerpot, I did somewhat jump when I read that you were with child. Good luck with the story. And I love your secret room dream. I always dream about dull things like gravel and roofing.
Milla said…
V interesting, CH. And so SHORT - the stories, I mean. That's another problem with them. I can't write short and if I read short, unless the one's E's mentioned, I feel cheated by them. Insufficient rewards for the emotional investment.
JJ said…
Yes, I'm with Flowerpot - I did a bit of double take at your words! I'm glad to hear it's not that kind of pregnancy.
Debs said…
I find short stories hard work. Glad to hear that you're not with child :)
Cait O'Connor said…
You are living proof of the way our subconscious works when we are asleep.
You shocked me with your first line Chris!
Good luck with the short story, I also fear them.
Leatherdykeuk said…
Short stories take as much planning as novels IMO
Frances said…
Hello Chris,

I am delighted that you are expecting! It certainly would be great if you would eventually be willing to let us see that baby.

xo
Preseli Mags said…
I'm delighted to hear about the new 'pregnancy'! Congratulations!

I was also fascinated to read about how your dream mind works.

I'd hazard a bet that most stories - whether short or prize-winning novel - start out as utter dross. It's like digging something out of the garden - it arrives coated in mud and once polished can reveal comething shiny and fabulous!

Good luck with the new 'baby'!
Exmoorjane said…
Heck that gave me a turn too! But how totally fascinating that you can access that inner treasure room. You lucky baggage! Mine has nasty beasts, not treasure.
Yup, I too loathe short stories - with the possible exception of DH Lawrence's....and Somerset Maugham and Katharine Mansfield (yes, yes, Mr Rot, you are so right) and MR James (whose are often so long they are novellas really).
Lane said…
Cripes. Your opener almost gave me kittens and I've got enough animals thank you very much:-)

I'm going to buck the trend here as I love short stories. Kate Chopin, Mansfield, Alice Munro,Joyce Carol Oates ..etc. Love 'em + modern collections. I think they suit my tiny attention span and I read them a lot when I'm writing.

Good luck with your short story and plunder that dream room:-)
elizabethm said…
I am not a fan of the short story either (and I love Margaret Atwood but totally agree on hairball - vile!)
I love your pregnancy dreams though and the hidden room in the house. I often have a similar dream but mine is not full of treasure, just acres of extra echoing dusty house that I did not know was there.
mountainear said…
Remember being told re design/art was that the process was 100% slog and that one had to really work at the creative process. Have just done something with a limit of 400 words and from something which seemed hard to achieve with a short sentence that was not enough.

Shame about the baby bit - i sometimes have baby dreams too but have not yet linked them to anything more than yearning.
Pondside said…
Have you read any of Alice Munro's short stories? They're beautiful. I can't stand Margaret Atwood, but love AM.
You had me worried about the pregnant start to this post. I have a 50 year old sister who has a5 year old and a 4 year old, so I've seen the challenges, and thought "Noooooooooo Chris!!"
Pipany said…
Difficult to write with any interest for the reader Chris, says she who has never written one. Lor' I was so excited then you swiped me down! Thoughts of sending baby clothes were instantly to the fore, darn it! xx
Heck - you even had me sharpening the knitting needles for a minute there! Phew! know what you mean though we all agreed when we had finished our local history book that it was akin to giving birth - definitely a pain barrier involved and very definitely maternal pride - if ONE person had been critical about it chances are we would have killed them on the spot we were so besotted with our 'baby'
Pat Posner said…
How do you stay awake enough to write during the day when 'Baby' gives you disturbed night!

I love the 'Dusk' painting.
Un Peu Loufoque said…
When I write my characters act uot thier lives in my dreams, bit like being taken over by Aliens but beatrs pregnancy! HAve you read Round Dozen by Somerset Maughan, a bit dated in style perhaps but one of the few short stories compendiums I enjoy..

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