Sunday, 1 April 2012

Cathedral to garden shed

Lovely post today on Beatties book blog, quoting Sadie Jones. "I'm never happy with what I've written," she says. "You imagine, before you start, there's a cathedral, and the moment it starts on the page, it's a garden shed. And then you just try to make it the best shed you can."

What a great description of what often happens between the words in your head and the ones that end up on the page! Anne Lamott in her writing guide "Bird by bird" says something similar about first drafts; how you've just got to get the words down on the page and then start shaping them into what you really meant. (She uses a slightly more graphic term, which I'll leave you to look up by yourself.)

When I think of cathedrals, there are two that immediately come to mind. One is Old St Paul's here in Wellington, a beautiful 19th century wooden church made from native timbers.

The other is Winchester cathedral.  We once lived in Winchester for 6 months and I loved being able to visit the cathedral often enough to get to know it better - the statue down in the flooded crypt, the stained glass window featuring Izaak Walton, the Close, the Winchester Bible in the Library and, of course, Jane Austen's grave - with the inscription that doesn't mention her being a writer.

Garden sheds pale in comparison. They are are smaller, jumbled, untidy, cobwebby, more personal. I guess you just have to hope that somewhere in there you might be able to unearth some hidden treasures and bring them to the light.


1 comment:

  1. Oh Pippa, I love the Cathedral that becomes a shed theory on writing. It's the bit that dispirits us I guess. But fortunately there is romance and delight too among the cobwebs.