A lot of people call me kind, gentle, outgoing, generous. But like almost everyone on the planet, I don’t see myself the way the world does. In my own mind, I’m petty, isolated, introverted, selfish. And I see this most clearly in my writing. See, the average writer writes for his audience. He puts words on paper that his readers want to buy. Me, I mostly write for myself. My words are my one indulgence. Well, my one public indulgence.
It’s odd, because I see myself as a writer above all else. Except, of course, my daughter. She is my whole world, and so I suppose being a mother trumps being a writer. That said, I often describe myself as a writer first, then a mother. Maybe it’s because my identity is more closely linked to books than to childbirth. Or maybe it’s because my subconscious knows I was writer long before I learned how to use my … ovaries.
Whenever someone asks me what a writer is, I say it’s a person that writes. And since I haven’t properly written in ages, I could argue that I’m not a writer anymore. I feel that way when I look at my work. It lacks the passion it once had, the effortless elegance, the ease and reflex, the intrinsic skill. When I look at my words now, they seem so much less … me. In some ways, I seem so much less me.
My work life has been pretty hectic lately. I don’t just mean on a task-based level. I mean I’m at a point where I’m drudging along. Where I walk out of the house, lock the door, and stand there for five minutes asking why exactly I’m going to the office. And after a spirited debate, I realise the only reason is that I can’t say why not. I can’t go back inside and tell my daughter that sometimes, when you don’t feel like going to work, you don’t have to. Because what would stop her from applying the same logic to school? And so I go to work.
I’ve asked myself if I dislike my job, and the answer is … not partuclarly. My workmates are cool, my boss is easy-going, my dress code is heavenly, I can wear my headphones all day, the pay is great, I have space and time to read … there’s not a lot more I could ask for in a job.
So why am I unhappy, and what would I rather be doing? The answer is always the same. Just like a billion people on this planet, I’d like to be a novelist. I’d like to write long, page-turning stories that move people’s lives and make me lots of money. I’m not sure I want my books turned into movies. I’m too much of a control freak for that. I’d just like people to read my work, love it, remember it. I’d like my words to mean something. And I’d like those words to turn into a penthouse with a heated swimming pool.
Every time I have this conversation objectively – even if it’s just inside my head – I realise there’s nothing stopping me from writing those stories. I suppose I’m afraid nobody will want to publish my novels, or that once they have, nobody will want to buy them. I’m thinking of the thousands of books in thousands of libraries that nobody will take off the shelf. The millions of e-books on Amazon that no-one has even heard of. Maybe I’m afraid of being another drop in the ocean of unread books. Or maybe I just need an excuse not to start.
When I first blogged in 2007, I wasn’t concerned about who would read me, or whether they would read me at all. Wait. That’s not entirely true, seeing as I emailed the link to everyone in my phone book. But mostly, I just wanted to write. I had a lot to say, and seeing it on (electronic) paper made me happy.
That feeling doesn’t last very long. A blogger might pretend that they don’t care about hits or awards or popularity, but deep down, everyone that writes, or sings, or performs, or says a single word out loud does it because they want to be seen, heard, appreciated.
So I suppose what I miss is the feeling of writing regardless. The bliss of putting down words even if I know that no one will see them, that the people who see them might not even care. The precious treasure of writing simply for the sake of writing. And I suppose once I reclaim that magical moment, I’ll start writing novels again, and maybe I’ll even get my second novel published.
Yes, there was a first novel, published in August 2008. It sold about 30 copies on Amazon. Oddly, I didn’t get much feedback, so either the people who bought it didn’t read it, or the people that read it didn’t like it. I’ve only met seven people who admitted to reading it. Three didn’t like it, and two had slept with me, so they’re probably biased. The final two know me really well, so they gave me detailed notes on the parallels between me and my lead character … without actually saying if they liked the book or not.
This is the part where I’m supposed to say buy my book. So … buy my book 🙂 And if you do read it, please tell me what you thought of it. Meanwhile, I’m off in search of a bitchy muse, the kind that will push me to write regardless of who is reading, or whether anyone is reading at all, because I really do miss that feeling. Maybe while said muse it at it, he can steer me back towards poetry.
As I wait, it may be a good idea to sift through my blog drafts. I see a lot of incomplete thoughts in there, and who knows, they just might be the seeds to a truly good story. Or even a soap or mini-series, because I’m toying with that as well. I recently worked on a project that broke my heart a million different ways. Well okay, maybe five different ways. I’ve spent the past few days trying to figure out the point of it all, because I don’t believe in the random.
My conclusion is a discussion for another post … which I started writing yesterday, and might finish at some point. For now, my clothes are soaked, the church bell is ringing, and there’s a hair care brief on my desk. Also, this weather is perfect for making babies, so wear gloves, play safe, and keep warm. Good weekend all 🙂
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