Tuesday, 12 April 2016

The Windmills of my Mind - Ruth Hatfield

Only a short one from me this month, because in the reduced amount of time I have to write since beginning my stint of parental ‘leave’, a new creature has suddenly emerged, and it is demanding attention. It’s familiar, but I haven’t seen it for a while. 

At first when it appeared, I was suspicious. It seemed too good to be true. I looked at it more closely and realised that, like a loveable dog at a rescue centre that turns out to be fully grown and completely unruly, it might quickly prove to be a lot of effort for not much apparent gain. But it was such an attractive prospect that I couldn’t help myself. I opened the cage door and took it home.

‘It’ was a completely new story that I really wanted to write. Just that. I’ve finished my last contracted book, so was thinking – I have to write something really special, now, to attract the attention of a publisher. Trouble was, I had plenty of ideas, but… I just really couldn’t summon up the will or desire to begin writing them. It got so bad that I found myself ranting the other day about how I spent my time encouraging others to write, telling them it was the route to freedom and happiness, but I was a complete fraud, because it wasn’t like that for me at all. I had to be so self-conscious about everything I wrote that I hardly ever enjoyed writing anymore, and I couldn’t see that I ever would again.

But here I am, free. No publishing contract. If this new story is no good, I don’t even have to show it to anyone. It’s like those old days of being a child and writing purely for my own pleasure. Of course I still have all the more grown up responsibilities. It’s just that – somehow – for a magic few moments, I’ve managed to forget them. It’s as if I’ve struggled out of a cave and come blinking into the sunlight. How often does this happen in a writing life? In mine – maybe just enough.

I’m interested in how I did manage to get out, but I feel that I don’t have time to look back at the moment and understand it. It’s a shame – I think understanding might help a lot when next I duck my head back underground and lose sight of the sun. But the story is rushing at me, demanding my attention. It’s telling me it might not be anything special – there are plenty of books about ponies already. But, like the untrained dog, loveable and wild, it’s leaping at my heels and telling me to throw it a ball – it’ll run and chase it and bring it back to me, and I’ll throw it again, and it’ll chase again, and oh, we’ll have so much fun –

Planning? Structure? Research?

Nope, this time I’m running with it.

(photos posed by a model - with thanks to Layla)


Joan Lennon said...

"I had to be so self-conscious about everything I wrote that I hardly ever enjoyed writing anymore." That's a killer, isn't it? Enjoy your run!

Penny Dolan said...

I'm sure many writers will recognise this dilemma. Thanks for posting about it and, yes, enjoy the run.

Lynne Benton said...

Good luck, Ruth, and go with it! As with running, it will keep your (writing) muscles in trim.