Sunday, 26 February 2012

Writing - a lonely profession?

About two years ago I did a little experiment in re-branding myself as 'a writer'. I found it motivated me to begin working seriously towards my neglected ambition.

My dad, my fiancé and I, visited Vancouver in Canada to attend my cousin's wedding. What a wonderful holiday we had! - lots of relatives there that I had not seen for many years, and perfect weather the whole time. However, being an introvert I find weddings terrifying. Add to that the fact I had been unemployed for a while, I was dreading the ice-breaker questions of lots of strangers. 'So what do you do?' they would all be asking me. Uncertainly I would have to reply, 'I sell second-hand junk online and at flea markets. I failed my degree so no-one seems to want to employ me... mumble mumble...' - all the while hoping that my beloved would come and rescue me with his irrepressible Cockney wit.

But I had recently begun mulling over an idea for a trilogy of fantasy novels. I've been a writer on and off since I was about 10 years old. I can remember my teacher (who always complained of my laziness) asking for a two-page story. I handed in ten pages: a science fiction story about a mad scientist and his niece and nephew, and their small scruffy dog, visiting Mars in a hot air balloon. The teacher said something along the lines of, 'Why don't you make the same effort with everything else?' I suppose it must have occurred to my smug little ten-year-old self that I could probably make a living at this writing lark. Many different ambitions and madcap ideas for day-jobs came along over the years, until, at the age of 27, I had come full circle and was day-dreaming about warriors and wizards once more.

Since I was spending more time writing than I was actually making money, why not answer the question, 'So what do you do?' with 'I'm writing a novel'? I resolved to do so at my cousin's wedding, and as the afternoon wore on I got more and more certain-sounding when I said it. At one point I was chatting animatedly to a charming fellow. I was pleasantly surprised when he admitted to being a former player of Dungeons and Dragons, and he was interested to hear all about my warriors and wizards story. Then I noticed that several people standing nearby were listening in to our conversation. I was terrified! And yet it made me realise that being a novelist is thrillingly interesting to most people, even if you're not published yet.

This knowledge has been an incredible motivator for me recently. Most beginner writers can come up with a good idea and make a decent attempt at some flowery prose. But writing a novel of good quality, from start to finish, all on your own, takes a Herculean strength of character! All the time I have been pottering with the outline for my trilogy, I have also been slogging my heart out just to build up my confidence. But even those times when I have heard the same ridiculous derisive comments, such as, 'Anyone can write a novel' and, 'You still writing that bloody novel?' repeated over and over, the comments that have stuck out in my mind have been the positive ones. 'You are blessed, knowing what your vocation is at such a young age,' one person has said. 'Anyone that disparages you is just jealous,' another person has said, 'the people you should listen to are the people who encourage you, because they're the ones who will buy your book when it comes out!'

All I have to do whenever I find my motivation waning, is to picture those people who have said nice things, and how their faces will light up when I tell them one day, 'It's going to be published!' Writing this blog and posting excerpts of the work in progress on my facebook fan page are the next logical step in this process. It's harder to slack on my word count when I know I have fans watching!

Who said writing is a lonely profession?


:)

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