My mate Justin Woolley just wrote a blog post that has gotten me thinking about the way that I use my blog.
Of course the function of the blog is to discuss and promote my work but I do talk about other topics every now and again, particularly the craft of writing. The first couple of these essays were topics that various people asked me to write about; the more recent ones have been distilled out of conversations I’ve had with other writers during the workshopping or editing processes. I make no claims to being a credible teacher, but these are the attitudes I bring to my own writing and it helps me, if nobody else, to explain them here. They are more difficult to write than fiction.
Justin raises the point that few people talk about the emotional journey that comes with writing: dealing with triumphs and, more often, with rejections;dealing with the expectations of society and of course with your own ambitions. Have a look at what he says here; it’s well worth your time:
Justin’s process is quite different to my own butI can’t help but agree with everything he says. Writing consumes almost every spare bit of attention that I have. I can’t turn it off, even though I sometimes want to. And despite every setback, every failure, every rejection letter… every bad review and patronizing remark and finger-pointing epithet… I have never given any serious thought to quitting. I see progress in my career, even if it’s much slower than I’d like. I see mistakes I made, opportunities missed, bad decisions and worse luck… and I can only expect more of the same as I persist with this lunacy.
So why do we do it?
Because it feels good. When the words are flowing, when the story churns out of the rapids and tumbles out into a waterfall, when the characters roar in your head and the language drenches your synapses… it feels good. And sometimes, somebody says ‘yes’. Sometimes a cheque arrives, or somebody asks for a signature, or you a stranger mentions your name. Those are nice things, too… but that’s just validation. Writing itself is joy.
Like Justin–and most committed writers, I expect–I have been writing since I first learned how. My first ‘novel’, written in Miss Perrin’s class in grade 6, was called OF CYBORGS AND CYBERTECHNICIANS. I don’t think any copies of it still exist, because I wrote it in a mania and my already-bad handwriting was far too much for my wonderful teacher to handle–so she got me a typewriter. I don’t think I finished typing it because another wannabe writer in my class broke it, but it after that there was no going back.