Telling stories

In the dim and distant past, when I was a primary school teacher, Creative Writing was an integral part of the school curriculum.  it was thought to liberate the child’s imagination and encourage a love of reading and writing.  Whatever the educational ideals, the task of writing a story or a poem was generally enjoyed by all the children and, for the teachers, was a joy to teach.  There is, after all,  a basic love of storytelling in all of us.  There were no rules, no constraints, the point of Creative Writing was to let the imagination, and the pen, roam freely.  Why is it so much easier for an eight year old to do that than a forty-eight year old, with years of experience behind them? Maybe because the child is not restricted by subconscious concerns about who their readership is, or which market segment their story is aimed at.  The child has no worries about mixing one genre with another or whether he is “telling” too much and not “showing” enough.  The child has a story and he tells it.  
When Creative Writing courses began to appear on college and university syllabi, I viewed them as an adult indulgence in the pure pleasure of being able to let ideas and words flow without constraint.  It wasn’t until I was truly bitten by the writing bug that I realised that, for an author today, writing a story is only half the tale.  Time and energy, lots of it, have to be devoted to the twin demons: Marketing and PR.  You are even advised to consider how you will market your book before you start to write it and certainly must keep it in mind at all stages of the process.  So much for letting the imagination roam free.

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Joan Fallon is a writer and novelist living in Spain.

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