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Reflections of a working writer and reader



Creating a Text – Paula Grenside

What phases are involved in the creation of a text?

For some years I have been writing mainly poetry even though I started writing fiction. I’d say the planning is very similar. I have an idea, write it down.The first phase is to decide how it will begin and how it will end. A lot depends on whether the story/or poem is mainly focused on a character and how she/he will reach the end passing through a particular situation. Usually I have a clear vision of the character’s final change, what she/he will be like in the end.The second phase is quite different depending on the text; If writing a short story, it is something wild, fascinating; I write down two, three ideas for the plot; after some paragraphs, the decision about which plot is the suitable one comes almost by itself; I mean that while writing, the mind develops the plot, chooses it, almost at an unconscious level. When it happens, the writing continues, ideas come, I keep writing without pauses till the first rough draft is completed.

What is curious, it that often the story takes its own life, apparently disagreeing with my initial decision, so much that I have to change the end: the plot simply suggests a different conclusion.

The actual writing of a poem involves a different kind of work: it proceeds by sequence of images, impressions, emotions associated to the senses. Each line and stanza can be a very slow process. I like compression, try to find images that can be read on different levels. I am never sure a poem is ready; I can say I like it, feel it can work: the problem is whether it works only for me or for readers, too.

The third phase is quite demanding for any text: to revise, rewrite, clean, adapt takes much longer. Sometimes I spend days on a page/line/stanza because I’m not fully convinced; I feel it is ready when I manage to read it from the beginning to the end without stopping with : but, why, what if, would it be better. . .

Paula Grenside is a poet and a traveller; she publishes photographs and blogs at:

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