Sunday, 21 October 2012
In the past month, because it is a month, let's not beat around the bush, I have had a SHED LOAD on. It's like I've swapped lives with one of those proper people who need some sort of diary to keep tabs on what they're doing. And it's been lovely, and tiring. And it never happens. I'm not saying I'm a mega-loner, but ya know, I sort of am, a bit.
It's important for me to say right now that I've enjoyed the socialising I've spent the past month doing. I've not begrudged one moment spent catching up with my friends. You'll see why.
Being so busy and so often from home or in company of an evening and weekend has all meant that I've really struggled to work on the 2nd or whatever draft I'm on of the WiP. Until this week! So that's good. Back in the game! It feels better.
I was talking to someone about hard work, and about working towards an unlikely career. And I think writing is an unlikely career, really. Considering how many people are in the game, the state of the industry, etc. We were talking about how disheartening it can be when you work for a couple of years trying to break into your particular area, and never seem to get anywhere. And I thought about it, because it's important, and about what stops me from giving up.
Say you get an agent, that doesn't mean you'll get a publisher. You get published, your book in a shop, no guarantee that people will buy it, read it, or like it. No guarantee of your next book being published or successful, on and on for the rest of the career that could end after any book.
That's once you've actually written the book. And don't get me wrong, writing is a pain. You have an idea, and it's amazing. And you know it'll be great. So you let it gestate, and you begin to plot it, perhaps, and it's hard, actually, because plotting is a bitch, and then once all that's done and you've ironed all the problems out, you get to write it. Which is the fun bit, except you're in too deep to give up but you've realised that your idea wasn't necessarily that good, and to actually start writing is to uniformly ruin all that you visualised, because you can never transfer it into words how you imagined it. And you write, and write, and write, all the time worrying that you're wasting and have wasted hundreds of hours you could have spent on a proper career.
Then you finish your first draft. And I don't know about you, but I immediately hate it all. So you leave it for a week or two, but it's a stinking pile of mulch in the back of your mind. Then you read it again, and perhaps it's not so bad as you thought, but you know it needs work, and you get excited again, and you edit and edit, and then you get disheartened and edit some more. And lather, rinse, repeat.
And it's pain. Writing is hard, and nothing is guaranteed, and you put your soul out there, into your work. Every decision you make feels pivotal, and as though with one wrong step you could ruin your masterpiece. Which is never as good as it seemed to be when you lay awake all those months back and first glimpsed the possibilities.
But you know what, it doesn't matter. Because then you'll have one month as a break where you just don't have the time to write. And it'll hurt, almost physically, that you can't. And any spare time at work or on a journey where you don't have your laptop or notebook you'll begrudge the fact that you aren't spending the time usefully working. Maybe it'll never be published, and maybe nothing will come of it, but it doesn't matter. Because deep down, that's not why I write. There's the dream, of course, of the author display in the Waterstone's window. The feature in the Guardian. The interview on Radio 4. But that doesn't matter, and that's not why I do it. I do it because I have to, because if I don't, part of me will die. Does that make sense? It's love, so I guess it doesn't have to.