Monday, 18 November 2013

My Mission Statement! When in Doubt, Read this Out!

Hello

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!
  • ...etc.

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).

My Mission Statement


I want to write the kind of books that are difficult to put in a box and tricky to categorise. I want to, have to and need to write stories that place as much value on feeling as thought. I want to prove intelligence does not need to be compromised in order to entertain. I want to be a storyteller – one who believes in beginnings, middles and endings. I want to provoke physical responses – laughter, tears, heart palpitations. I want to take people to another world in order for them to see the one they live in with new eyes. I want my books to come up with new truths so obvious they sound like clichés. I want to fill my books with love and hope and possibility. I want to ignore the rules that say you can’t have happy endings or clichés or adverbs or jokes (if it is good enough for life it's good enough for a book). I want to be a tour guide of the imagination.
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Question of the Week
 
Does anyone else out there feel the same? 
Do you have something that keeps you writing even when it seems that there isn't any point?
When those days come and you start to doubt yourself, what do you do to push past that feeling?
 
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.
Pip  x




10 comments:

  1. I admire your frankness, Pip. And trust me you're not allow. I have dealt with(and continue to deal with) the same feelings. I am extremely fortunate to have the endless support of my husband. When the dark days come I cling to a promise I made myself to repay my husband for his support and to show all the doubters that I can build a successful author career. I also remember all the other times I felt failure but pushed through and overcame. I find it's also very helpful to remember that the only one who can end your career is you. If you keep writing, submitting and studying the craft of writing you will be successful. You will. Believe.

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    1. Thank you Leanne. Thank you for helping me realise that it isn't just me and that maybe it is the doubt that drives us forward. All the best and stay cool. Pip

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  2. Thank you for sharing. I struggle with doubt and discouragement frequently. I have been writing my entire life, journaling mainly. I love to write and often feel driven to do it. I have been sharing my life experiences/perceptions on social sites for a few years. Some have said they have been encouraged and also see talent in my writing. I started a blog a few months ago. I sure do feel vulnerable at times! Criticism or lukewarm responses makes it worse, though I try to learn from those.
    You have inspired me to write my own mission statement! I think it's exactly what I need! Thanks again.
    You, Sir, write from the heart. Please don't stop.

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    1. Hey Di. Thank you for replying and thank you letting me know that it isn't just me that feels this way quite a lot of the time. I knew it wouldn't be, but it can writing is lonely and whilst others can and will support us in our endeavour, I really believe that unless they have had a go, so to speak, they don't really understand. Good luck with the mission statement, when you've done it, let me know so, you never know if we collect enough we could have a book for doubting writers. 101 inspirational mission statements for doubting writers. That has to be a million pound idea? Stay cool and thanks again.

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  3. Pip--Sorry to hear you ran into a Dream-smasher. They're always out there. I've posted about people who try to sabotage your work on my blog this week, with some tips on how to deal with them. http://annerallen.blogspot.com/2013/11/are-your-family-and-friends-sabotaging.html You're right to keep an eye on your goals. Writing them down is a great way to keep from being knocked off course by the nasties .

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    1. Hey Anne. Good to hear from you again. How weird is that, I blog what I have this week and at the same time you blog with what you have. Again thanks, you and your writing have made me feel so much better. I don't need to tell you as you already are, but stay cool and look after yourself.

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  4. I can really relate to this post. There is nothing worse than when somebody rubbishes your passion or your dreams. What I have come to realise in the four years that I have been writing is that the inspiration and the positive feeling of accomplishment comes from within. Whereas the bad feelings tend to originate from external influences - rejections, bad reviews or simple disinterest in my work. What this means is that the positive stuff relates directly with the writing process, but the negative is entirely separate and changes nothing about what I write or who I am.

    I really liked your mission statement and if your book ticks those boxes that you listed, I think that you will make a terrific and hopefully, successful, writer. Good luck and stay positive!

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    1. Cheers Dave. I really appreciate you taking the time to answer my latest neurotic rant. Thank you, it helps to know that others have felt this way, you know what they say, misery likes company. I have written down what you have said and pinned it to my notice board as a reminder of the negative and positive. Thanks again. Take care mate, but above all stay cool.

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  5. I've only recently joined some writing communities on Google+. That's how I found you. This theme seems to be running rampant there: writers being psycho-emotionally smashed to bits by what some other clown said about writing, being a writer etc.

    I think about how I'd react to someone who told me that I was selfish and arrogant, for any reason. Though they would be cut off at the knees, which I would enjoy, I would have difficulty calling the whole of my passions into question because of their meanness. How could someone you just met know you enough to judge you like that? Amazing. People who have their own deep-seated self doubt will always try to pull others down with them, like your new friend.

    Writers, artists, musicians... they're just people. They're no different from anyone else just because they might do something well. People without courage, drive or passion keep "famous" people in some unreachable place in their minds. It's unreachable for them, so they need it to be unreachable for you too. Your friend was talking about himself.

    That spiraling tangent you accepted there was so destructive. It made me think about this book called The Four Agreements. It's by Don Miguel Ruiz. Turned me around like crazy. I think it might've been written just for you, man.

    It's a great thing, but don't try to accomplish your mission in a single sentence!

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    1. Hey Chris. Thanks for your comment. I agree with what you have said, at the end of the day these fools are exactly that, fools. It just amazes me how anyone could be so brash and with little thought of what it is they are saying and how it might make others feel. My Grandma always told me, if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all! I think there is more wisdom in that one line than most might realise. Thanks for the recommendation too, I will definitely look in to that now. Stay cool mate and thanks again.

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