Tuesday, 10 April 2018

5 secret feelings that writers have, and how to fix them. By Auntie Blotto, author’s agony aunt

 Let’s look into our secret sides today…Dare we? Come on. Shall we admit some things and give ourselves some writerly self-help? Which of these secret feelings do you recognize? Auntie Blotto, the writer’s agony aunt, is here to help…

You secretly despise social media and suspect that it is all useless. Most of it is deadly dull and you seem to be in one big loop with other writers – all posting at each other in a big circle. Presumably if you got super-famous you’d have to stop it all anyway because you’d be overwhelmed by nutters tweeting/messaging you about your underwear. You’d like to forget the whole thing…

Auntie Blotto says….
Drop the lot….But hold on. What if it is important? Oh drat. Nobody knows. You’ll have to grin and bear it, and make an effort not to be dull. That way you might even start having some fun.

You get regular stabs of envy when you see the work of other writers, especially those who work in a similar field to you. You imagine they are wallowing in money, rose petals and ass’s milk delivered by genuflecting publishers. The envy makes you feel mean and twisted, and frustrated with your own work.

Auntie Blotto says…
It’s a natural reaction in a competitive business. Turn it positive by admiring and learning from the work of others. Easy....Ahem. 

PS: Some people in life will go out of their way to lord it over you, slathering you with news of their greatness when you meet them. Learn to put ‘bullshit shields’ up when you see them coming, like mental versions of those deflector shields Captain Kirk used in Star Trek, or avoid these people and get on with your own achievements.

You secretly have dark feelings towards acquaintances who aren’t writers and have, instead, chosen to work in jobs which give them huge pensions that you can only dream of. You privately hope they feel they have wasted their lives doing boring things and this makes them miserable on the many expensive holidays they will/are taking.

Auntie Blotto says…
Let it go. You made your choices. But you could turn your lowly income into a positive by living in a very green/good for the planet manner, and making sure your aeroplane-hopping friends know about it….and feel guilty. Hah!

When at local social gatherings you have a love of playing the ‘I’m a creative’ card, knowing that most people will think you’re some sort of shaman and may feel inadequate because you have secret powers that they will never understand.

Auntie Blotto says…
Why not? It can be very satisfying when you’re in a roomful of the pension-stuffed people mentioned in number 3. But use this card sparingly for the full effect, and don’t overdo it by starting to wear self-consciously ‘whacky’ arty clothing, like a mad art teacher from the 1970s. It's perhaps best saved up the sleeve for Christmas drinks events and weddings. 

Occasionally you wake up and think you will never write another word. In fact you have forgotten how to write or even spell.

Auntie Blotto says…
Take a day off and go somewhere away from your writing space – Somewhere that floats your creative boat (museum/exhibition/beach/stone circle/shoe shop/actual creative boat– whatever you’re into). Also try looking at what people are doing in other branches of the arts. This might give you some fresh perspective.

Then pull yourself together and get on with it, for goodness sake.

Auntie Blotto does not take private consultations because she spends all her time making up any old stuff… Sorry, that should be ‘writing self-help books’. She has promised to read your confessions below, however.

She was talking to children’s author Moira Butterfield, who is fortunately beyond criticism herself.   


Hilary Hawkes said...

Love that! A very cheery post on a rainy morning - thank you. Auntie Blotto is so wise and comforting :D Does she have a suggestion for dealing with people (usually relatives) who like to ask "how is the writing going?" (they don't really want to know) and who then make patronising remarks when you try to answer and who then switch the subject back to themselves? I've tried a kind of cloaking devise (Star Trek style) when I see them approaching but they still seem to find me.

Susan Price said...

Simple, Hilary. With relatives, you reply, "Fine. How is your [fill in subject or person important to them]?" They then talk for an hour and forget about you. After all, they weren't interested anyway.

With non-relatives, you don't tell them you're a writer unless they have to know. If asked what you do, you say, "I work with a word-processor. What do you do?" They then forget about you and talk about their own job. (Which may be interesting and give you ideas.)

Moira Butterfield said...

Perfect solution, Susan!

Lynne Benton said...

Love it, Moira! Thank you for brightening my day!

Steve Gladwin said...

Ah how well Auntie Blotto understands us all, Moira!