Writing is hard work sometimes.
That’s a pretty obvious thing to say.
What I mean, if I’m a bit more specific, is remembering why you write is hard work sometimes.
Before that first deal you write for the love of writing.
The joy of taking yourself off into another place. Creating characters is so much fun isn’t it?
Inhabiting different worlds, living different lives, you have adventure and excitement at your fingertips. The words flow, gush, tsunami out from your fingertips. The world is a bright and exceptional place and you have found your inner creative genius. You have discovered what you were always meant to do and in that you have revealed the best part of yourself, to yourself.
Enjoy this bit!
Now, if only you can get that first book deal, everything will be outstanding for the rest of your life. You’ll have that book on a shelf. You will be validated. Nothing will ever be wrong ever again.
Well here it is!
They love your work! They are willing to take a chance on an unknown kid – or rapidly aging adult in my case. Your book is out there in the shops. You get sent photographs of readers chortling along, scared witless, crying real tears – not necessarily on the same page.
You have made it.
Enjoy this bit!
So now you have everything you ever wanted.
Except isn’t so and so having their twelfth book deal over there? And have you heard that so and so has just won a prize for being the best writer the world has ever seen and of course, that has led to a twenty-seven-figure book deal, which will last them for the rest of their lives, and beyond if they are cryogenically frozen and manage to come back?
And why can’t you write anymore?
What has happened to your magical fingers?
Why does your ideas bank feel like a squeezed out, dried up, mouldy half-eaten jellyfish?
It’s fine! You WILL get that second book out if it kills you. Which it might well do.
Enjoy this bit!
And on it goes.
And then suddenly you will wake one morning and realise you are a boring author. Or at least this is what happened to me.
I don’t mean my work is boring. I mean I am boring.
My husband comes home at night to find me bleating about the fact I haven’t won the Nobel Peace Prize for Literature.
I mean, I’ve got a book out for 7-9’s for goodness sake. It’s beautiful (it really is) and the Queen hasn’t even had the manners to give me a call to commemorate my services to fiction?
Ryan Gosling moment...
Ah, that’s better.
And so I am taking a step back in a saintly type manner.
I do have a looming deadline for my second book (thank you Earth, planets, stars, gods, Firefly Press, special agent Ben Illis, everyone) and I do have to write words.
BUT I made myself stop this morning and really have a think.
Why am I writing?
What is it I love about it? Is it the pay cheque? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.
Or is it the storytelling? The love of words? The way I feel when I lose myself in something? The feeling of communicating with other humans? Of sharing the human experience?
What am I trying to say?
About life? About people and cultures? Friendships? Strength in the face of adversity? Connections? Being human?
What am I trying to say with ‘Gaslight’ my forthcoming MG novel - to be launched at the Cardiff Kid’s Lit Fest next April, please come, there’ll be cake - and why did I start writing it? What do I love about it? Why is it important?
Take yourself off on a walk with your dog – you can borrow mine if you don’t have one, he’s a lovely little fella – and remind yourself that what you are doing is important.
VERY important. You are telling stories and what could be more glorious than that?
You don’t have to become embroiled in the angst of it all – at least not all the time. And neither does your husband - sorry Guy.
I'm also sorry for making you dress up like this for Halloween.... but less so...
And when you see those people who became a success overnight just remind yourself that they didn’t. They’ve been through all of the stages you are going through and might still be going through them now.
Just like those people who can eat whatever they like and never put any weight on, who you see leaving for their morning jog at 6ish every day.
Most importantly comparison is the enemy of achievement (or some quote like that) and this is about you and your creative journey, isn’t it? Isn't it?
So remember to enjoy it. Enjoy all of it. Every last second. We are the privileged creative people and that is worth the ride.
And apologies for the manic / happy elf pic but I am the 26th blogger so Boxing Day will be too late!