Not sure where I’m going with this blogpost, so if you’re looking for something concise and to the point, you’re going to be disappointed – it’s a bit of a brain dump, bear with me…
Some of you may know, some of you may not know, that I’m trying to write a book. I say trying, because I’ve been trying now for years – I mean, literally, more than two years. Every New Year I say ‘I’m going to write a book this year.’ And every year, I don’t.
It’s not because I don’t have a plot – I do. It’s not necessarily a plan, or not a firm one, but it’s a plot, an idea, and I have characters, a setting, and whole chapters, written. I feel like the plan wriggles and won’t fully settle, and I can’t quite get it straight in my head, but I don’t actually think that’s what the problem is. I haven’t been able to put my finger on exactly why I can’t finish it. I also don’t know if this is normal.
I’ve been reading the poems of Dorothy Parker recently, and she wrote this line, ‘I hate writing – I love having written.’ It struck a chord with me because that’s exactly how I feel about it, all the time. Not so much with little blog posts, which are fairly effortless, but with anything big – an article, an essay, or even more so a book. It feels painful, like drawing blood from a stone.
My husband and a couple of my friends know I'm writing a book and they get frustrated. One of my friends said to me the other day after a couple of glasses of wine, 'Where is your book? God Cat, just write the book.' I couldn't help it - a bit frustrated, I replied, 'Why don't YOU write a book then?' It's becoming slightly maddening.
It’s hard to explain, but when I was younger I found writing exciting. I loved creative writing lessons, the thrill of a blank page in a notebook or on a Word document, and now I find it intimidating. I think almost the longer I carry this book around in my head – honestly I know the characters so well now that they almost annoy me – the harder it gets to put it down on paper, because I feel like I’m not doing it justice, somehow? But then I’m not going to do it justice if I don’t write it at all, am I? And what if I got hit by a bus? I swear my last thought would be 'I wish I'd written that bloody book.'
Part of it is fear of failure – fear of writing something and nobody liking it, nobody thinking it’s any good. I know the saying ‘If you never try, you never know,’ but equally, if you never try, you never have to know, do you? Having your writing picked over by people, rejected – it’s horrible. I don’t have an especially thick skin about it. My husband is the only person I let read my writing – even my short stories. He asked to show his mum last year and I said no, which he thought was really silly, but I just – it’s like showing somebody the inside of your head, and giving them the opportunity to say ‘ugh, not sure about that.’ Is it like that for everyone? I don’t know.
Blogging is different because in a sense it’s deliberately light-hearted, especially lifestyle blogging. I mean, if you don’t like my review of a restaurant, or if you think my Friday favourites are stupid, I don’t particularly mind. But when it comes to my book, I mind. I mind so much that it’s choking me.
Someone recently suggested changing up my working space, so this weekend I’m going to take myself to a coffee shop, leave my phone in my bag (Instagram is NOT a writing tool) and just try and get some words on paper. But if anyone has any advice on how to get back to writing like you’re carefree, I would really appreciate it!