Taking a step back

Confidence. Freedom. I find these to be the most difficult aspects of a creative art such as writing. Your own mind, your sphere, your zone, whatever you want to call it, can provide the most exhilarating of experiences. As the author, the power you have over the people and places you create is awesome. I could let the sun shine continuously for days on green fields. Or I could cause a dark storm and flood the fields with days of rain. I control who meets and who doesn’t, who is happy and who is not. To be lost in these ideas and find your way safely back, only to return at a point of your choosing to start again, is so freeing. This is best summarised in the below quote, given to me by my best friend. It is stuck to the wall above my desk.

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On the other hand, the expectations, fears and doubts don’t go away. The older I get, the more serious I become about writing as a career, the more I realise that writing can’t just be fun anymore. The pleasure it brings me isn’t enough anymore. I want to give up my 9-5 to do it. I want to make money from doing it. I want my stories to reach a wide audience. These goals have knock on affects and in a way that makes me sad.

I have been preparing an article which I hope will be published on another blog (very excited!) but I admit I have struggled. Feeling exhausted and under the weather the last few days has helped me to realise that I have squeezed most of the fun out of it. I was being too cautious, too concerned by what people would think. Rather than writing freely, in my own voice about what I know, I was writing under the weight of expectation. I can apply these concerns to starting my next novel. This too has also been a struggle. And why? Because I am held back by the pressures I have put on myself. Write better, harder, for longer. In doing this I am completely missing the point. If I open myself up to the new project freely, without worrying about its wider implications, I will write well, meaningfully. I am in control (even though it far too often feels like I’m not) so I can write, or not write.  Ultimately, I could cast off any ideas for Wendy’s House I might have had and write about something else if this is another constraint holding me back. The thing to cling onto is that I still want to. I have to hang onto the fun and the wonderful feeling writing brings, or else I will just be swallowed into a cynical hole where the only emotion I’ll experience is the fear I will never achieve my dream. This won’t lead to anything productive.

I had another rejection last week. It’s all part of the process as I’ve said before, but I think if I’m honest with myself it started my little creative wobble. But allowing myself a few days to get my head together was the best decision I could have made. I did some reading (so close to finishing Far From the Madding Crowd) watched some films and found that I was inspired for the first time in ages. Taking a step back was what I needed.

My colleagues bought me a wonderful book for my birthday, 642 Things to Write About by the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto. Leafing through this, I have decided to write a few (like above), just for fun. To remind myself that there is something more important than my fears and insecurities, to have confidence that I can write on certain subjects that I hope people enjoy (Magic Mike XXL post received my highest viewings in a day to date-thanks readers!) so what I need to do is have a little more confidence, a little more fun and breathe in some of the freedom this brings. This should start a more positive cycle-the more I enjoy writing, the more I will make time for it.

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