A Writer's Process: Lucy Whetman

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‘English Girl’ is part of a longer project about time I spent living in Greece.

When I read Bridget’s prompt for the competition I thought it summed up what this section is about. I reworked the piece in the light of the entry guidance about bringing in ‘the wild’ and that helped to strengthen it.

I like to write about real-life experiences because I want to understand why certain times and events hold such significance for me. Trying to create a coherent account of what happened, and why, forces me to make sense of it in order to communicate it in words on the page. With this story in particular I wanted to show the excitement of arriving in a new country and the way that an unfamiliar culture taught me to see myself and my life differently. From the moment I landed I began to change.

What gets in the way when I write is my own critical side.

My job is as a sub-editor means that this gets plenty of use, so it is challenging but fun to use a different part of my brain, to let go of any pressure to produce something that is ‘right’ first time, and be surprised by what does come out. When I look back at old drafts of this piece and notice how much it has changed, I may think that the latest version is best but I know that it would not exist without the previous ones.

If I get stuck when I am writing, I make myself stop and go for a walk or a bath. I love what pops into my head when I am no longer thinking about it.

What helps is useful feedback and any encouragement, especially from other writers. I like reading the work of other developing writers, particularly memoirists. Hearing people’s own individual stories written in their own words is fascinating.

I do not know what will happen next with this project.

The process itself motivates me. I want to find out what this memoir will become, and I enjoy the feeling that I am learning and improving as a writer.

At the moment I am altering the structure and the memoir is expanding. I have discovered that the main theme is not what I originally thought it was, which is great because the new theme is much better.