This month (October 2014), we had a visit from Judi Goodwin with a short talk and workshop. Being hopelessly disorganised and a huge fan of Google, I took no notes at all, being sure I’d be able to look it all up later. And Ms Goodwin has the entire first page of Google in various guises. I’m impressed. The most I’ve ever managed is about six at one time, though I’ve been consistently number one for many years now. It doesn’t help that Google spent a while mixing me up with Debbie Bennett, the Christian singer (more an issue for her I would have thought, given the nature of what I write…). But internet presence is a topic for another blog.
Judi runs writing courses – fiction and non-fiction – but she takes a more holistic approach, using neural linguistic programming techniques and aspects of meditation and hypnosis. One of her first questions to ask the class was whether any of us had been hypnotised. I haven’t – but I’ve seen it done and been incredibly impressed at the power the mind can have over the body. I was sober at the time too, so I wasn’t imagining it….
Judi’s theory is that if you can connect with your own mind. senses and emotions, you can reach through your writing and connect with other people too. Very basic, very true and so often ignored by many writers who simply write “what happened”. What happened may be (or may have been, if you are writing a memoir) very exciting for you or your characters, but to convey that excitement – to take it out of your head and into somebody else’s – you have engage all of your senses.
My take on it is that without those dimensions, your writing will be flat and dull. Think of association; when you hear a piece of music, it can instantly transport you back to a time or place, or even person. That’s the effect you are looking for in writing. I’ve always said that a “real” writer leaves a little piece of themselves behind in everything they write. It’s like bleeding onto the page every time.
So there we all are, with closed eyes, listening to the traffic on the A556 and doing some basic meditation. Then Judi takes us back to times in our past to discover our relationship with food. Yeah – I can do food! But think of three love/hate relationships with food – find the passion, she says. So I do. And where do I end up? In primary school in a 1970s summer, queuing up for those revolting little bottles of warm full-fat milk we all had to drink before we were allowed out to play. That smell of sick, the slime of the stuff and … OK, I’ll stop there, shall I?
Powerful stuff, food!
Debbie Bennett blogs randomly on her own page at www.debbiebennett.co.uk and regularly as part of the Authors Electric co-op. You can also occasionally find her at sites such as the Writers And Artists Yearbook or on the Harrogate Crime Festival Website. Debbie writes mostly dark and gritty crime fiction – she’d tell you more but then she’d have to kill you afterwards.