I’ve moved things forward this morning, wrapping up this section with the part where we take the character from damage to reconciliation. It’s bullet points really but that’s deliberate, taking a few choice moments to capture a past that informs but does not dominate the main external and internal plotlines. All storytelling is based on choices that you make, what you show is not the same thing as what you know. You suggest, if you’re good at it, tell the things that the reader needs to know but not much more than that.
I say ‘if you’re good at it’, I am not certain that I am but I enjoy doing it and I work at it regularly. You work in a state of solitary confinement, self imposed exile from people in order to entertain them. I say entertain because to do otherwise is on that axis between lofty and pretentious. I don’t like to think of myself as that. It’s too much bloody pressure for one thing and when you’re only reading my work on a blog, anything else sounds delusional.
There is a degree of self-appointment. No one makes you write, except in school. I could sleep in, stay up late, consume rather than produce and yet to me, it would feel like preparation for death. No matter how much grief, frustration, upset, repetition is involved, the glory of finishing something and being satisfied with it is quite spectacular sometimes. There are good days and bad in writing, but you keep going and going until something is finished then start again with something else. The pleasure is in the work, the process not always the reward If the rewards motivate you, then that’s great but don’t make them your sole source of gratification. I believe that discipline beats motivation every single time, and discipline is not dependent upon the praise or criticism of others. Discipline is quiet, it shuts up and listens, so should you. It inures you to insecurity for the most part. It doesn’t stop it, but you can reassure yourself that you’re working and if you keep doing that, you will improve and that makes it easier for people to pay for your work, either via a publisher or off your own back. If it is something private, intimate then you can go deeper into the pain or the emotion, find the nuances in the experience and reach for the sublime within that. I don’t assume everyone writing is doing it for financial acclaim, to one degree or another, we write for some deep, personal reason. Pleasure is perfectly acceptable as a motive, as is pain. To increase the former and decrease the latter defines so much of life, but we need the balance of both in order to grow and develop as people.
I’ve put up another episode of my series, The Ogden Review, and I’m pleased with how that’s going. It’s pure playground for me, it’s sloppiness and plotholes are a small price to pay for the simple joy of being able to write without a care in the world. It’s not slapdash work at all, but it lacks the ambient agony that the books engender. It has it’s own energy and I hope that if you’re reading this, then you might read that. If not, it’s cool too, there’s lots of good books and writing out there and you have to make choices.