Sunday, 17 June 2012

Being a Writer

Recently my mind has turned repeatedly to The Next Book. This is a book I will write one day. Because I am A Writer, and Writers Write Books.

And then I found myself reading a novel* about a writer, and there was some discussion about the business side of his life - what projects he was working on, how much they were paying, how motivated he was to finish them off. I was reminded of my time as a full-time writer, during which I was so distracted by the workaday stress of what, when, how and how much that I rarely wrote anything I was happy with.

I remembered the stubborn glee with which I turned my back on the publishing world and self-published, vowing pompously never to fall for the artificial allure of Literary Success again.

So why, when I imagine this book I am going to write, do I frame my thoughts with publishers, reviews and - yes - Literary Success? I don't even know what the damned thing is about, just that I must write it.

I've been kind to myself and allowed myself a few more months off, but apparently I have to start writing next year. Not only that, but I have to write fast. I'm only allowing myself a year or two. God knows how, as it's unlikely I'll get any time off work or parenthood.

But this morning, for the first time and, with shame I realise, in a spirit of Honest Deconstruction of One's Desires which is rare for me, I wondered why. Why the impatience?

Because I need proof. That I am a writer, that I didn't make it all up, that I am not some flash in the pan. That I am worth something. And for that I need a product. A published product.

Well, this will not do. I didn't enjoy the business of being a full time writer and I didn't like the misery of trying (and only partially succeeding) to get published. I don't have the time to write a novel soon or quickly, and the pressure created by such an attempt would make me unhappy.

So. Let it be known.

I Am A Writer.

But that doesn't mean I have to write A Great Novel (or any novel) some time soon, or any time at all.

I will write what I want, when I want, and I will bloody well enjoy it.

So there.

*Zoe Heller: Everything You Know (which I am enjoying, despite the unsympathetic protagonist).