Ask any writer – a real writer – why he or she writes, and they’ll reply that they’re born to do it. It’s their destiny, and it’s a dream that they’re not prepared to let go.
I’m one of them, but I’ll only admit to that in writerly circles. While I make a living from writing – from journalism, commercial writing and copywriting – I’m kind of shy about the fact that I harbour ambitions to be an author. Of a novel. Preferably in print, displayed prominently in the front window of Waterstones in London’s Piccadilly.
My daughter says to me now and again: “How do you publish a book, mummy?” as she waves a little wad of folded paper with her little stories and illustrations. She so innocently believes that she can easily spend an hour scribbling and drawing, and then produce a printed, laminated version of her output for everyone to read.
Except why not? In a world of e-publishing, we could easily produce a version to go online. But it’s not the practicalities of her insistence that strike me. It’s the lack of shame or fear or embarrassment about her potential and ability as a writer. I’ve always felt I’ve had to hide mine away for fear of:
- Someone discovering some notes, journals or drafts I’ve written and being offended because I have referred to them.
- Someone laughing/mocking/denigrating my work.
- Discovering that I’ve been kidding myself about my talent.
- Failing. That someone thinks I’m a rubbish writer.
- Bearing my soul and someone hurting it so it retreats back into its shell.
- Like the emperor’s new clothes, someone will point the finger and say my writing is stripped bare and worth nothing; it’s a mere delusion of grandeur.
Except the sad fact and the bare truth is that the ‘someone’ I fear – that outward projection of an internal block/fear/obstacle – is part of me. It’s the very part of me that I need to uncover, manifest and use to infuse my writing with personal power, real understanding, and the confidence and innocence of a child that hasn’t been hurt yet.
But to do that would involve cracking open my shell – a scary task in itself, and no guarantee of finding a pearl within.
You can only fail if you don’t try, follow what speaks to you.
Thanks. So what works for you? How do you get to be so uninhibited with your writing?
I spent too much effort trying to be like everyone else and not enough being myself. I finally decided to go with the flow and share my own voice (good, bad or crazy) and I’m not only more disciplined, but now having fun.
So you’ve let go and let be. Fantastic. I’m on the verge of something, and your comments are exactly what I needed to hear today. Thank you
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