At the ripe but for ever immature age of, well, the age I am now, I finally allowed myself a luxury of a daily torture which writing brings to those who write.
Over the last couple of years I have been told by people who had no ulterior motive in being either nice or dishonest with me, that I ‘should write a book’. Fair enough, my close family members were among those who encouraged me, but they were not the only ones. Having spent several decades trying out all sorts of ideas and scenarios, I thought, fine, why not, I’ll do it, I’ll write. So it is being done, I am writing a book. The Book. Please do not ask me how it is going. Do not ask me how much of it I have written, and if and how I am going to get it published. Ask me something I might enjoy answering instead. Ask me what I like about writing, how I motivate myself every day, because yes, I do write every day, no really, I do, you can ask my cats, they are my annoyingly faithful companions. They must be wondering why I took to staring at them with such unwavering intensity of late. I wouldn’t be surprised if they are getting as freaked out by me as I am when they stare back. Freaked out is not a particularly literary word, I am aware of that, but it’s the only word I can think of when talking about how my cats make me feel with their feline superiority and aloofness. Awkward, you might think, she calls herself a writer and she cannot even think of a proper word for how her cats creep her out, so here, another word, creeped out. That will have to do for now, I am still a beginner.
Starting The Book has brought a few rejuvenating changes in my life.
I wake up early and exhilarated because today is another day in which I am going to write. I open a blank document and just write, Nike style, even if I do not feel particularly inspired, even if my creativity is still dozing away, even if I should really be getting ready for my day job, even if all of that happens at once, I still write, if only for a short while.
For the first week or so it felt incredible, it felt like I was the very first person ever going through the new-to-writing experience, I thought I was being really clever doing what I was doing, and was beginning to feel the first flushes of smug self-complacency. I have since had it confirmed on good authority, Google no less, that all of that is standard writing experience. In fact, I turned out to be such a predictable writing cliché I feel robbed of my uniqueness.
A very thorough industry research followed, average daily word count by best-selling authors, daily writing routine, best time of day to write, do I write on weekends, how many words per published page, how many words per average first fiction book, non-fiction, flash fiction, pros and cons of self-publishing, essential reads for would-be writers, I looked up the lot.
The truth will always out with Google. It tells me there are no writing groups of any description near me. No results found, accompanied by an empty five-mile radius circle. Brixton to Purley, Bromley to Mitcham, nothing. I haven’t yet decided how I feel about that. On one hand it can be good news as it might mean less competition submitting to Croydon Gazette. Then again, this greyed out writers-free zone might mean that no writer of any worth has ever emerged from barren clay soils of Upper Norwood. Challenge accepted.
Based on what I have learnt, I believe that what I am writing right now is called a craft essay, I am pretty sure it is. Like with craft beer, the aim is cool and not too frothy. Craft essay is writing about writing and being witty about it. This one ticks the first box, but then it gets a crafty rather than witty. Still, fifty percent at first attempt isn’t bad so I am going to give myself a cautious pat on the back.
My husband still thinks it is all an extended joke. He comes into my study in the morning to say goodbye and he notes merrily, as he buttons up his shirt, ‘oh, you are creatively writing then’, he then giggles himself out of the door. My husband, my rock.
One thing I am looking forward to next is purchasing the whole new Writer’s Wardrobe. Writing clothes are ever so forgiving, all chunky knits, flowing oversized boho dresses, and combat boots, oh, the boots are just the dream! Not sure about the bandanas though, they make me look like Zorro without a hat.
What else? My mind is faster than my keyboard, my mouth is faster than my mind. That is nothing new, I have always known this, but what is new is the frustration it now brings me on a daily basis. When I try recording myself, that red recording button doubles up as self-censoring device, so that’s a no.
My favourite new hobby is staying up late and setting traps for thoughts and ideas when the whole house is asleep, only me and the cats again. Also first thing in the morning, and in the bath, and if I stay still enough for long enough, I get a firm grip on a few, but some good ones still manage to get away.