Writing is such an odd occupation, requiring peculiar minds combined with unusual personalities. All writers are weird; that’s a given. We know we’re strange, some of us peculiar to the point of near insanity, others merely eccentric. We’re definitely an odd bunch.
But there’s a strange beauty, a wonderful schizophrenia about writing, especially when the work is either fictional or poetic. We live our lives vicariously through the characters we create. So a writer can be a killer, a saint, a whore, a magician, a rationalist, an extremist, a vampire, a tiger or even a pencil. That’s our secret and our burden: to get into the very being of whatever we’re using as a point-of-view character. Making a mild man write as a murderer, a prudish woman write as a woman of the street, a mature man write from a child of five’s perspective, a wise woman write as a romantic fool, all require effort and sacrifice. We all suffer from a form of multiple personality disorder and, occasionally, our fictional personas can leak into our real lives, so our partners and offspring have to learn to live with beings who can be changeable, unpredictable. Some, of course, are capable of compartmentalising their lives so that their creative efforts rarely stray into their everyday realities and their nearest and dearest may never be aware of the turmoil that storms beneath the calm exterior. Such effort takes it toll. Cliché it may be, but everything really does have a cost, if not a price. I suspect that’s what’s caused so many writers to be drunks, serial monogamists, mental health patients, drug addicts or obsessives. Some calming balm is necessary to still those turbulent waters.
I’m writing this as I wait for my adorable wife, my beta reader, my reliable grammar/spelling policewoman, my soulmate and love of my life to get ready for our daily walk. You see, that’s the other thing: we rarely waste a moment. We’re reading if we’re not writing, thinking if we’re not writing, imagining if we’re not writing, learning if we’re not writing.
Everything is of interest to a writer: who knows when that fact about football might insert itself into a story about greed? Who knows when that snippet about the lives of moles might insinuate itself into that story about determination? Nothing escapes us, even if we seem to have forgotten all about it.
I break here because Valerie is ready after my wait of just five minutes and the weather is wonderful, if cold, out there. Opportunity to be taken. Camera at the ready. Mind engaged.
To be continued…
After a two-hour walk followed by lunch, I return, merely to conclude this short post.
Perils and Pleasures; a summary, but which falls into which category will depend on your view:
A never-ending reading list.
A hide like a rhino (to deflect the inevitable criticisms)
Patience (to smile whenever a friend/acquaintance/family member informs you they could write a book – It’s easy!)
Networking as an essential part of making your work discoverable, rather than simply as a means of procrastination or social interchange.
Joy in the outcome.
Anguish at the outcome.
Procrastination in infinite forms.
An inability to read without noticing grammatical errors.
Living the story.
Emotional engagement with myriad personalities.
Descent into black minds.
Ascent via the minds of heroes.
Writer’s block (a stranger to me, thankfully!)
Insufficient time/energy/opportunity to complete every intended project.
Readers (our most precious asset!)
Too few reviews.
I’ll end it there, though I could continue, and I’m sure you’re all bursting to add your own points to this list. Please feel free to do so in the comments section below. I’d love to know what you all think.