Why can’t I come out of my writing shell?

How can I crack open my shell to reveal the pearls within? (pic credit: istockphoto.com/Kasiam)

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.

5 thoughts on “Why can’t I come out of my writing shell?

      • 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

  1. Pingback: On Leap Year Day, surely there’s no excuse for not making that writing leap? | inktuition

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