Monday, 28 June 2010

Mythanthropy: N M Browne

I like myths: I depend on them. They are the source of much of what I write and the foundation of my writing. My personal myth is as necessary to me as the air that I breathe or the coffee that launches my writing day. My personal myth is that writing is easy, fun and unimportant. ‘You just sort of sit down and type and eventually something will happen and then a story sort of arrives and you just write it. I quite like it, but you know it’s not essential to me. I haven’t always written and I was perfectly happy back then and you know I’m only part time so I’m not really a writer...’ I’m not saying I don’t believe this because, as we all know, myth expresses truth, but the deeper truth is that I know that if I allowed myself to admit to caring about my work, to taking it seriously, I would be unable to do it it all.

I don’t know but I suspect that we all use little personal myths to help us write, odd takes on the world that allow us to keep doing something which I have to see as essentially ridiculous. Some people use the myth of the struggling artist to inspire them. They buy into the necessity of pain in order to produce something worthy and sometimes see the value of a thing as being directly proportionate to the amount of suffering involved. Some wannabe writers seem to believe that to be ‘real’ writers they need to develop a borderline personality disorder, alcohol/drug dependency or a problem with personal hygiene. Others see writing as a battle in which their self worth is tied to their personal courage and grit, their ability to absorb all the difficulties and disappointments this business throws at them in order to come back bloody but unbowed and still fighting.

Writing is difficult because it requires skill, persistence and luck. It is hard to earn a living, it is hard to gain respect: sometimes it is just bloody hard. It is not glamorous, it is often isolating and isolated. Is it any wonder we need our personal myths to protect our egos, to make our daily struggles more heroic? Or is that it just me?


John Dougherty said...

No, Nicky, it's not just you. Thanks for articulating this.

Sue Purkiss said...

It certainly isn't just you! I try out different myths all the time. I always enjoy your down to earth approach. You seem to me to see things very clearly and sanely.

Penny Dolan said...

Nicky this is such a perceptive point - something I hadn't truly recognised. I have heard that "not essential to me" line enough times to have thought it suspicious, ie. "Don't care . . " Then - zap! - another brilliant NM Browne book out there! I'm now trying to work out what exactly are my own personal myths.

steeleweed said...

"An author is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people." - I forget who said it - I forget a lot of things these days :-(

My myth is that I don't have a myth.

Lucy Coats said...

Nope, not just you Nicky. I depend on myths for my writing too--am surrounded by them every day, think about them all the time. But my own personal myth? That there are enough hours in the day to get everything done. There never are, and do you know what? There's always tomorrow!