Dave-PescodQ. Do you think that there are areas where writing a story allows you to grapple with a subject better than any other form? In other words, when do you think writing stories is the best fit?

I went to art college for about eight years and developed a visual vocabulary, which was probably more succinct than my written one, and I worked in, and taught, visual communication. I wasn’t very interested in decoration, or eye candy, I always wanted to get the point – the message. So when I started writing that was very important for me.

I remember discussing with some writers after James Lasdun won the National Short Story prize with his excellent story ‘An Anxious Man’. There’s a section of the story where the main character is swimming across a huge lake anxiously thinking about his investments and the whereabouts of his daughter and wife, with poetic description of the water and scenery. One writer was enthusing about the multilayered complexity of the story and how it could only work in the written form – and there is some truth in that. For me good writing often tells a story in a way that may appear simple but will also have different layers if you wish to read them, but wouldn’t be necessary to get the story.

Writing short stories is a good way for me to find out what the hell it is I’m trying to say or finding out what a story might be about. This may be triggered by a curiosity, or an investigation of an emotional concern. I’ll often write in longhand and let it flow. Not till I think I know what the story’s about can I begin to build it, throw away the debris and start to write it in the full sense. So writing is a good fit for me to find what I want to communicate. But the story really matters, and writing is about revealing it to yourself and then the reader. Then it might become a performed piece, a film or whatever.

I remember at primary school in assembly, stories were read out and sometimes a teacher had recorded them on tape with simple sound effects. They were magical and would provide me with dream stimulus that could last till lunchtime. And at that age we would write stories everyday, and of course we might muddle our realities. Maybe, writing as adults helps us sort these out as well.

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