I’m currently learning to drive. God help the human race.
I’m doing this for a number of reasons:
- I need to be more independent and able to get to places in the middle of nowhere without relying on the goodwill of others.
- I want to be able to take my kids to places that I can’t at the moment.
- I want to be able to do some school visits without having to rely on three trains, a tram and a taxi ride.
- I hate buses.
The fourth point was reinforced when a bus driver kindly pulled in to the bus stop, and then immediately pulled out again, despite the fact I was standing RIGHT IN FRONT OF HIM, leaving me and two kids stranded into torrential rain. I decided at that moment enough was enough and I needed to get my act together and learn to drive.
To be honest, I’m not very good at it. I’m obviously not a natural born diver. But going through the motions has made me realise that there are some similarities between driving and trying to write a new book:
- At first everything is overwhelming. You look around your new car/blank page and you haven’t got a clue where to begin. It’s scary. You wonder why the hell you’re doing this.
- You start. You stutter. The gears stall/your keys clunk. You keep messing up. You feel rubbish. You stall at a major roundabout or freeze during a manoeuvre in a busy street. Meanwhile as a writer you are stalling at chapter three, looking grimly at your work – you can’t remember how to write a sentence. You hate it all. You delete six pages.
- You see everyone else driving much faster and better than you, you feel inferior and inexperienced and stuck in the slow lane. Other ‘not so nice’ drivers flash and overtake you. You wonder why you are doing this at all. As a writer, you see others get their books published/win awards/ get new deals – they all seem to be doing better than you, and you worry that you’re not good enough.
- Other people will start to tell you how you should drive your car better, how you should ‘do your test now’ and ‘just get on with it’. Other people will question why it is taking you so long to learn in the first place. They will ask why they haven’t seen you out on the road yet and make you feel cross. As a writer, the other people will also question you – they will ask you why you ‘only write children’s books’ and tell you of ways that you can make more money. They will ask why they haven’t seen your book in their bookshop and make you feel cross.
- As you drive a bit more, your confidence lifts a little, but then you make a big mistake - you pull out in front of another driver and it shakes and you want to give up. As a writer your confidence grows a little whilst writing and then you hit a block. You can’t find your way round it and it shakes you. You want to give up.
- You finally put in for a test. You fail. You finally submit your novel. You’re rejected.
- After lots of tears, sleepless nights and biscuit consumption – you pass your test. You feel happy, overwhelmed and shocked. You suffer imposter syndrome. After lots of tears, sleepless nights and biscuit consumption your book is accepted. You feel happy overwhelmed and shocked. You suffer imposter syndrome.
- You continue writing/driving with mixture of excitement and anticipation. Glad you did it, but well aware to avoid any pot holes that might be awaiting you.
Can I just add that I haven’t actually passed my test yet, I’m just imagining what it feels like!
Does anyone else agree with this analogy?