One of the things I learnt about myself during my time at The Arvon Foundation was that I have a tendency to over-write. During my one-to-one tutorials with both Diana and Patrick, I was advised by them both not to ‘over-egg’ my writing; indeed Patrick quite charmingly put it that he felt like he was wading through a swamp of words by page four of the eleven-pages I had submitted for appraisal. It’s something my dad has previously warned me about, and I am fully aware that I often use ten words when just one would have a greater impact.
During one of the workshops we had with Diana we discussed the act of murdering one’s darlings; essentially culling your work and bringing it down to the bone when necessary, even if you think a passage has been beautifully written. The term perfectly sums up the practice, as it can often be a rather begrudging process to go through, particularly as the pages deplete before your very eyes. Indeed, I now have a document with all the cuts I’ve made which has a higher word-count than my book itself, and I have returned from The Hurst with less material than I arrived with. However, it is of much better quality and I feel much more confident going forward; knowing that every word counts.
One piece I’m most proud of began in the exercise Diana set us that day. We discussed things to avoid in our writing – the over-use of adverbs, adjectives, cliches, metaphors and similes and we were then encouraged us to write a piece of bad prose littered with all of the above.
And what began as a short scribble in my Moleskin, later became fueled on Thursday evening by an unhealthy amount of wine and the input of my fellow Arvonites, Elizabeth, Laura, James, Becky, Rachel and Paul. The following masterpiece was produced and we called it, The Otter.
Paris awoke yawning tiredly fatiguedly stretching her long lithe limbs skyward towards the ceiling like a moist wet glistening otter waving a welcoming hello at its loving mother.
She held a lovingly written love letter in her hands and stroked her milky white pulsing thighs, pulsating yearningly pleadingly lustfully gazing longingly like a sailor searching for a loved one in the tormented inky bowels of the sea.
Her tumbling golden curls cascaded down the porcelain incline of her back, and caressed the peachy orbs of her buttocks like a pride of rampant lions cresting the plains of an ancient African savannah.
She tossed her head like a waterfall of spun silk sunshine, traipsing through the happy mire of their fondest honey sweet memories of her knight in shining heroic armour shining like a juicy polished chestnut brown conker.
The silver cod piece flung opened and his purple throbbing sausage unfurled invitingly into the dripping chasm of her gaping desire.
She felt a trembling volcanic stir in her uncharted loin and gasped a gasp as mighty as the westerly wind, as burning lava spurted from her shuddering molten core.
She remembered the first time they made love, the sultry melodic tones of David Essex vibrating through the candle-lit room.
They shared a soaring, triumphant crescendo, reaching ever-further towards climatic bliss.
Oh, how Paris longingly longed for her darling, her sweet, sweet tall, dark and handsome darling and the happy ever after that would see them riding off happily into the soaring, fiery, sun-dappled sunset.
Patrick awoke on the special bus, a packed lunch of egg-free quiche on his lap. It had all been a marvellous, heavenly dream.
(Dedicated to our wonderful tutors, Diana Evans and Patrick Neate, with our loving love).