I wrote three pages this morning. I do specific meditations around my writing, to get me into the right headspace where I can work in a place of focus and excellence. They work for me, which is the main thing. I can and do write without them but I look at life as an athletic performance and push myself with it. Meditation, focused writing practices all help me remain productive and keep aiming to write as well as I possibly can. I have also edited the last notes on USS which worked out really well, punching up the work to a better standard than previously.
I do the work. I listen to advice from the people who have a vested interest in my success and growth and I don’t get critics as such yet, even so I would welcome them as an opportunity to suck less. I do not necessarily go in for the magical thinking aspect of writing in my practice. There are definite moments of satisfaction, it lends itself really well to making me more interested in people and to listen more than I speak. I’ve experienced the sweep of literature many times which is why I take such pleasure in reading regularly and part of that is what drives me to write. I’m not original, simply working to get to a point that my work gives someone else a good experience.
If my book helps someone pass time on a commute, make the wait for an appointment less turgid or occupy an evening then I will have already been a success.
We write because we read.
We read because we write.
I know myself through my writing. What my relative strengths are, and where I can improve. I know that working daily keeps me motivated and consistent, I know that I can write through pain or illness, that writing at the start of the day is more effective than at it’s end, and is easier to protect that time. I know that there is always more to learn and that simply delving into writing advice is trying to quench your thirst by opening a fire hydrant. You have to find what works for you, and you alone. If you outline or dive right in, then it is whatever gets you through to having finished work that you can edit or send out.
I know this because I spent more time choking on the fear of my writing not being perfect than writing. I have always written but it was not until the last six years that I have finished anything. It’s interesting that I’ve learned more about writing and myself in that time, a period of evolution ratcheted up to breakneck speed and still learning all the time.
It’s broadened my taste in reading. There are genres and literature that are open and of interest to me now that were not before. I am relentless in learning as well as being entertained. I’ve got past my reticence of older books, finding awe and an almost drunken delight in Dickens. I’ve got Doestoevsky to work through. I’ve always enjoyed Hemingway but now I can articulate how marvellous a trick it is to work with such spare language. I can go back and see how bloody marvellous Stephen King is. It’s had me at the feet of the work by Joyce Carol Oates, Margaret Atwood, Sarah Waters, Alice Hoffman and Gillian Flynn. I return to A Song of Ice and Fire with newfound appreciation for the scale of the work, it’s earnestness and grandeur.
It’s made me less tolerant of my own affectations and dissembling. Making writing my purpose has enriched my life and I work towards it, through the weeks of inertia, the rejections for the short fiction that lit me up like a firework but get knocked back with a polite email. I have made sure that my love for the work is sourced in the process rather than the outcome in order to inure myself against disappointment.
I considered myself a success when I wrote a book through to the end, everything since then has been a blessed bonus but I still have my ego and my ambition, my awareness of myself is far kinder and more encouraging than it used to be.
So maybe there is magic in that.
There is always the work though. That’s enough for me to be going on with.
Thank you for reading. Please leave comments and questions below. I really appreciate them and reply to each one.