Wednesday, 3 June 2009

What's it like, Being a Writer? : Penny Dolan

Sometimes, when I’m visiting schools, I get asked “What’s it like, Being A Writer?" I’ve always found this difficult to answer, because there are so many moods to the task.

Recently, tidying some childhood books, it came to me. Being A Writer is like living in A.A. Milne’s original Hundred Acre Acre Wood, the world of the Sheppard illustrations. (Not that Mr Disney, thank you.)

There’s Tigger days, when you have lots of energy and drive, and your writing seems to be going well, and you are maybe unreasonably bouncy and self-centred.

There’s Winnie the Pooh days, when you plod along, often mistakenly, despite the limits of your poor brain but where you know the essential thing is to keep going, in a fog of hope, no matter what.

There’s Piglet days, when it’s all really, really a bit too much for you, and though you might have some good ideas, they might not turn out to be good ideas and could you please just have somebody’s paw to hold.

There’s Rabbit days, when you feel totally on top of things, and you’re actually rather well organised, and can get quite tetchy with friends and aquaintances who get in the way.

There’s Eeyore days when all you understand is deep, deep gloom, and you know nothing will go right because the whole world of books and publishing is against you, and there’s no point in trying anyway, because it will all go wrong.

There’s Owl days, when you’ve sure that you’ve hatched a very wise and praiseworthy plan, and when all your work seems to be the very best writing you’ve ever done, and accomplished and clever at that. Only others know differently.

There’s Kanga days, when you need to care for yourself, and do what’s best for you and your health and your general tidiness and well-being, because you know it’s good for you.

There’s Roo days when you’re just way too interested in all sorts of special things to settle to any writing at all.

And, thankfully, there’s Christopher Robin days, when you know that all these different friends need watching patiently and lovingly, and that all will probably be sorted out happily, and that the important thing is to have serious fun while you’re playing. Because there are far less happy places you could be.

Wonder what sort of day . . . or week . . . or month . . . you're writing through just now?

14 comments:

Anna Wilson said...

Absolutely lovely and one hundred and ten per cent spot on! I will keep your pearls of wisdom on my desk to keep me going through my Eeyore moments, which are occuring far too often these days.

Penny said...

Thanks, Anna. Don't know where the analogy came from, as I was struggling with something completely different at the time. Perhaps Pooh-sticks rather than pearls, though?

Charlie Butler said...

Great post, Penny!

Anne Cassidy said...

And there are those Hannibal Lector days when you just want to kill everyone and eat their livers with a nice Chianti!

bookwitch said...

I think this list goes for those who don't write, too.

But no liver or Chianti, thanks, however murderous I feel.

Penny said...

Hannibal Lector? Aaah! I'd wondered who was hiding behind all those trees, Anne! Though think I'll just block the HL image - and meal - from my mind. May feed the seething rage, but opting for honey (energy & sweetness) and carrots (eyesight!) might keep my mind calmer. Have enough days when I'm chewing through those stringy sting-y thistles . . .

Nicola Morgan said...

Excellent! I'm having a Roo day!

Mary Hoffman said...

I used this, anonymously, at SCBWI retreat and meant to thank you before for this utterly brilliant analogy.

Dianne Hofmeyr said...

Brilliant Penny and the remarkable thing is it's sometimes not even for a day... you can be all of them in the space of 24 hours... which is why I admire anyone who lives with a writer!

Linda Strachan said...

Love this one, Penny.
Having a bit of a Pooh day today so far, it's early yet, but it is probably due to lack of sleep. Would like nothing better than to sit on the branch of a tree with a small pot of honey and let the world go by. Unfortunately have to try to discover my Piglet side when I go off in a moment to speak to some very small children!

Anna Wilson said...

Have just read out your Pooh-stick wisdom to my sis who is an artist with many Eeyore moments scattered with Tigger bits and not a lot in between. She was tickled pink. Must try and focus on being Christopher Robin today, I think. Thanks again. x

Nick Green said...

Nobody laugh, but I always feel that the Dire Strait's song 'Private Investigations' can be heard as being about the life of a writer. Perhaps only in the Eeyore moments, though. Seriously, the lyrics are quite apt.

Lucy Coats said...

I adore this, Penny, and shall print it out and keep it somewhere handy. I'm in a Kanga phase right now, which I am enjoying while it lasts. Thanks for brightening my (rainy) day.

Lucy at http://www.scribblecitycentral.blogspot.com

Blitzen said...

I absolutely love the attention to description. Thanks for this, it describes it all too well. I still think sometimes I am not cut out for it, and that maybe I don't really desire to be a writer. It can be quite confusing sometimes.