I've been thinking a lot recently about writing, more specifically I have been thinking why is it I feel the need to be a writer. Last week I was introduced to someone who told me that I was both selfish and arrogant for wanting to be a writer. Apparently the time I spend writing could and would be used better 'Doing something more constructive'. 'I'm wasting my time' I was informed and 'There was absolutely no chance that I would get anywhere with it'.
I'll be honest I was to shocked to react immediately, I didn't know what to do or say to this unexpected outburst and by the time I had figured out something witty to respond with, the conversation was several hours dead and I was surprised to find myself in bed. Once I had gotten over the initial shock, laid in the dark, staring at my bedroom ceiling, my first reaction was anger. If I was to be honest I was fucking furious, who the hell was this person to tell me these things. I never introduce myself as Pip Connor, Writer. I don't feel that I have the right to call myself a writer, not yet anyway. I was so angry I got out of bed and reached for the secret stash of cigarettes my wife has hidden in the coffee pot in our kitchen. She doesn't know I know they're there as I don't drink coffee or tea. I haven't had one of those terrible yet ever-so-tempting cancerous sticks in almost 3 weeks as I am trying desperately to give the habit the kick, but at the time all I wanted to do was smoke and scream and smoke and swear and smoke and cry. So there I was stood in my back garden, unlit cigarette in hand, staring up at a miserable November pre-dawn sky, wearing nothing more than my comfy crocs, boxer shorts and a hoodie, when I realised why I was so angry . This small minded person (prick) who felt the need to express these points to me hadn't told me anything I didn't already know. I must say them to myself at least a dozen times a week. It's okay for me think these things, but when a complete stranger (wanker) says them out loud without even asking Why? Who? What? and Where? it hurts. It made all my fears and insecurities regarding my writing very real. I didn't light the cigarette, I put it in the bin and instantly wished that I had smoked it. And then I booted up the old laptop at 03:38 and started to write until my little girls woke up at 07:30.
At the moment I don't have a job, I was made redundant a few months ago, but my wife and I discussed it and she convinced me to take some time off. I've worked all my life and with a lot of persuading from my better half decided that perhaps a 6 month break from the rat race would be nice. We've saved a couple of quid, not what you would call a fortune, but enough for me to take to the end of the year off, so that's what I'm doing so that I can focus on my writing, as prior to losing my job I had finished my first story/book so why not spend a few months polishing it and seeing if I could do something with it. Well now I'm at the point where I am looking to send it to an agent and at the moment every time I sit down to re-write my synopsis, or spend hours I should be sleeping researching for the right agent, I always think the following -
- The story is shit!
- The writing is shit!
- Who the hell are you to think you could actually do this?
- How many hundreds of hours have you spent writing this dribble and for what?
- People will laugh at you!
- No one will take you seriously!
- No one will like it!
- The story is shit!
- The writing is shit!
And every time these thoughts attack me (And they do, a lot) I force myself to ignore them by saying to myself that at least I'm giving it a go. I'm not hurting anyone, I make sure that my wife and two girls have my full attention 100% of the time and then when I know they are fine, (more often than not it's when they are sleeping), it's then I spend the early hours looking at that screen.
It's the need to write that drives me, but it's the fear that often inspires me.
So I have decided to write what I Shall call 'My Mission Statement'. Something to read and memorise and then say out loud when I feel doubt. When the days come and all I seem to get is rejection after rejection I shall stare at the words below and know that it will be okay. When the flashing cursor is mocking me I shall stand up tall and shout loudly and proudly my mission statement until all doubt, all fear has gone. (Okay that might be a little melodramatic, but you get the point).
It would really help hearing that it isn't just me who feels like this a lot of the time.
Anyway, time to go. Look after yourselves people but above all, stay cool.