A Writer's Process: Teresa Benison

My first thought when asked to write something for Wild Words was, what about a piece on The Writers’ Day?

Except, this writer’s day isn’t terribly interesting: desk; caffeine; fuss the cats; admire the collared doves roosting in my tree; lunch, then the same thing all over again….

Ok, so what about some musings on the process of writing?

A long time ago someone told me ‘you can’t call yourself a writer until someone else calls you a writer…’ It was seductive and, being young, it made a sort of sense. I see this now for what it truly is, a deeply damaging statement.

I do believe in the importance of connecting with those ‘someone elses’ (readers) but ‘being a writer’ is more than that. It is not what I do, it is what I am.

Story runs deep for me, it always has, and it is everywhere.

Once, walking through Cambridge city centre, I saw a sign on a lamppost advertising, ‘Public Executions’. In a flash my brain was off, transporting me to a dystopian future where executions habitually take place outside John Lewis with the BBC in attendance to capture reactions from the family and friends of victims.

It took me longer to write that paragraph than to envision it. There was a split second between seeing the sign and realising I’d misread it, that it actually said ‘public exhibition’, but that was more than enough time for my brain to go into overdrive. Moreover, for me the reality was far less interesting than my imagining.

So what I would like to do here is celebrate the fact that these days I embrace such moments. They are the flipside to the nag of self-doubt that I’m sure is common to many writers.

I have learnt to trust myself and my process. I never cease to relish the wildness of words and the power of story.

Story bubbles in my brain like a slow-cooking pot; add to that the special alchemy when story is transformed into words, words which take on a life of their own in the mind of the reader… what could be better, more exciting than that?

There you have it: a fragment of this particular writer’s process. Thank you for reading to the end, but now it really is time to get back to the cats and the caffeine, for I sense another story brewing…


Teresa Benison is a writer living and working in Cornwall; visit her at www.teresabenison.com