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Doing Something Different

Every now and then Einstein's definition of insanity wafts through my brain in a pungent reminder that this Groundhog Day of my life is of my own making; doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is insane. So, I’ve decided to make 2024 the year of doing something different. Lots of somethings.


This month’s folly was to attend a Crime Writing workshop. I expected to sit in a room of mostly middle-aged women and get told a bunch of things I could probably find with a quick Google search. What I hoped would happen is the speaker would impart that one little nugget of information that would make my science fiction crime stories work (because I’m sure if there is just one thing wrong with them). Impossible, I know, but that’s what hope’s job is.


I quickly got distracted with stupid thoughts; why did some people choose to take their notes in pencil? Were they not committed to them? Then I noticed that the people writing in pen (including me) all had spiral-bound notebooks, while the pencil jotters had what looked like properly bound moleskines. Us pen writers were giving the impression of commitment to our words, yet we could rip them out of the notebook at any time and there would be no evidence they were ever there, while the pencil jotters would need to take a knife, or scissors, or an excess of eraser-work to wipe their notes from existence. So who was really more committed?


The fact I spent so long pondering that conundrum probably gives us the answer about who is more committed. Unsurprisingly, I did not learn that one change I need to make to fix my stories (unless he mentioned it while I was having my spiral notebook epiphany). While interesting, the lecture didn’t give me anything new, and the audience was pretty much what I expected, only I noticed I was starting to blend into the demographic a lot more than I had ten years ago.


But I know from experience there is always at least one thing you can take away from these sessions. For me there were two. First, I got this really great idea that actually had nothing to do with what the lecturer was saying, my brain just went on a ‘what if…’ cascade and landed in a really cool place (I promise, it was nothing to do with spiral-bound notebooks). Secondly, I met this really generous author who gave me a bunch of different tips, insights and some names to chase up. I love that about writers, they are almost always happy to share their knowledge.


Both things were easily worth the small fee I paid to attend the workshops and served as a reminder that I should do more of this sort of thing. I’m happy to chalk that up as a win for the ‘do something different’ mantra. Now I have to work out what to try next.


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