Sunday, 12 August 2018

Time to go - by Ruth Hatfield

After three years of monthly panics about what to write, I've finally decided to give up writing these blog posts, for the foreseeable future at least. Three whole years - in that time, I've had two books out and produced (well, birthed) two children. Seems like a good period of time to reflect back on. So what have I learnt, really? (Disclaimer: this is entirely about me, but I'm talking about myself in the second person because that often seems like the easiest way to make grand statements about complicated things).

That producing children is easier than producing books.
That children demand more of you than even books do.
That pouring your heart and soul into working out how best to raise your children is easier than pouring your heart and soul into working out how best to write your book.
That children know instantly when you are trying to think about something that is not them.
That child-raising and book-writing are two relentless, exhausting endeavours.
That child-raising has a higher chance of bringing you joy and happiness.
But not necessarily of making you feel you have said what you want to say.
Because mostly you are just repeating 'Because it is' and 'DON'T PLAY WITH THE DISHWASHER'.
And sometimes you forget that words were ever a pleasure to you.
That children are their own magic.
And books are your magic.

I had something else to say - about the failure of my books to sell, about ten years of work, thoughts and dreams dissolved in the aether, about the cruelty of a savage review, about something a wise friend recently said to me concerning my reluctance to let myself write what I really want to write, and how it was a bit like being too frightened to let yourself fall in love again after suffering heartbreak -

But that seems like the best place to stop. When there's still something more to say.


Anne Booth said...

Dear Ruth,

I want to wish you all the best. I know that you said you aren't going to write about some things you could write about, but I hope you don't mind if I say something about them.

I think things have their own timings and things come around again and you are totally right about the facts that bringing up children and writing are two wonderful and exhausting endeavours, which at times can seem in competition and at others complementary. Writing every day in my notebooks whilst bringing up children kept me going - a tiny amount of that has been published but I seriously must have written at least a million words which are unpublished or were never written to be published, and that writing was successful in its own way - it was writing - it released something in me, and I continue to do it every day. I found 'The Artist's Way' by Julia Cameron such an inspiration and it made me realise that being a writer is who I am - and even if my books go out of print and I am no longer published, as long as I write, I am a writer. I think success or failure in writing is never assured or-even final. I am re-writng a novel for adults I wrote in 2005 for an MA, which had an agent and which got precisely nowhere, and yet which seems to want me to write it yet again 13 years on - even though I have re-written it at least 3 times already and thought it was totally dead in the water. So I want to wish you all the best, that you have a wonderful creative and love-filled time with your children, and that even if you aren't writing for this blog, please keep writing if that is what you love - and don't let past 'success' or 'failure' affect that. I am so sorry about that savage review (I can quote you word for word all the horrible ones I have had - none of the good ones stick so well!) - but remember - everyone has them - and savage reviewers, as Julia Cameron says, are often blocked creatives, and also - I have been at a book group where Jane Austen was savaged - so you are in good company. xx

Penny Dolan said...

Ruth, I'm sorry to be reading your last ABBA post, and especially your thoughts, here today. Oh, that recognisable, wearying feeling of disbelief and heartbreak! Sometimes life needs to feel balanced again. Hope your retreat from ABBA helps. Looking after yourself and the ones you love is truly the most important thing. I'm sure your words are still there, even if they're only whispering among themselves right now. Good wishes, lots of them. Onwards! X

Rowena House said...

What a beautiful, moving and thought-provoking blog. I wish you joy in your children, and in all the creative parts of your life, wordy or otherwise. I've no idea how people write & raise young children. I have unlimited admiration for women who have, in any sense, achieved this as you have. I couldn't have dreamt of doing both. Thank you, too, for helping me take another step towards a decision about what (if anything) to write next. Isn't life often about letting go? Warmest regards.

Ruth Hatfield said...

Thank you to all three of you - all your comments touched me more than I can say. Good luck to you all!