Pen Pals for Creativity.
Sometimes a name, your name can get in the way of creativity. Sometimes your very sense of self, your identity, your history, your expectations for who you are and want to be, narrow your story down instead of widening it.
Wouldn’t it be nice to write with a degree of invisibility…Sometimes you need a twin, -a brother, or sister; a new friend, or all of the above- to gain access to your story…A pen name allows you to write more dangerously, to take risks that are too foreboding or forbidding under your real name…a nom de plume allows us to change our self-perception. We’re all boxed into some sort of corner of identity- a box that we sometimes construct ourselves. So a new name = a new self = a new writer.
( Grant Faulkner, Pep Talks for Writers )
Make a note of your favourite subjects and themes in your writing. Think about your choice of genre and whether you think you stay within certain approaches and styles. Do you always write your way? Or is your way mixed up with other ways too? How comfortable do you feel with your writing style?
29 April 1920
Travelling to London
When autograph albums were the fashion – sumptuous volumes bound in soft leather, the pages so delicately tinted that each tender sentiment had its own sunset sky to faint, to die upon – the popularity of that most sly, ambiguous, difficult piece of advice: “To thine own self be true” was the despair of collectors. How dull it was, how boring, to have the same thing written six times over. And then, even if it was Shakespeare that didn’t prevent it – oh, l’age d’innocence! – from being dreadfully obvious! Of course it followed as the night the day that if one was true to oneself . . . True to oneself! Which self? Which of my many – well, really, that’s what it looks like coming to – hundreds of selves. For what with complexes and suppressions, and reactions and vibrations and reflections – there are moments when I feel I am nothing but the small clerk of some hotel without a proprietor who has all his work cut out to enter the names and hand the keys to the wilful guests….
This is the moment which, after all, we live for, the moment of direct feeling when we are most ourselves and least personal. [K Mansfield Notebooks, undated.]
It was not a smart house. Ordinary. A nicer place to live, admittedly, than the tiny flat where yesterday’s blood-stiffened clothing lay in black bin bags, awaiting incineration, and where his knives lay gleaming, washed clean with bleach, rammed up behind the U-bend under the kitchen sink.
This house had a small front garden, black railings and a lawn in need of mowing. Two white front doors had been crammed together side by side, showing that the three-storey building had been converted into upper and lower flats. A girl called Robin Ellacott lived on the ground floor. Though he had made it his business to find out her real name, inside his own head he called her The Secretary. He had just seen her pass in front of the bow window, easily recognisable because of her bright hair.
Watching The Secretary was an extra, a pleasurable add-on. He had a few hours spare so he had decided to come and look at her. Today was a day of rest, between the glories of yesterday and tomorrow, between the satisfaction of what had been done and the excitement of what would happen next.
(Robert Galbraith, Career of Evil)
He tapped the wall three times with the point of his umbrella.
The brick he had touched quivered – it wriggled – in the middle, a small hole appeared – it grew wider and wider – a second later they were facing an archway large enough even for Hagrid, an archway on to a cobbled street which twisted and turned out of sight.
‘Welcome,’ said Hagrid, ‘to Diagon Alley.’
He grinned at Harry’s amazement. They stepped through the archway. Harry looked quickly over his shoulder and saw the archway shrink instantly back into solid wall.
(JK Rowling, The Philosopher’s Stone).
Now create a pen pal for yourself. A nom de plume or pen name. Whatever feels right for you. Create a short biography for your other writing self. Maybe imagine this new self as a mask? Maybe not. It’s entirely up to you.
You are going to write two openings to a story or poem called The Gift. Write one opening as your normal writing self and then the second opening as your new self. Notice any differences?
How to write a good essay!
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