Monday, 4 March 2013

as I see it - the truth about writing

I love writing.  There!  I've said it!  I guess being the author of a blog may be proof enough, but just in case it wasn't, I needed to get that out in the open.  For the past few weeks, I've been enjoying Allison Tait's posts on the topic of writing, ranging from the actual process to the ultimate goal - publication.  This series has made me consider my own approach to writing - how I feel about it, why I write and where I'd like to see myself, maybe 10 years down the track.  In order to do this, I need to confront some of my writing truths...

Time is not on my side
I struggle with setting aside time for my own writing.  It's hard enough to schedule my casual freelance work (mainly grant writing, publicity and graphic design), let alone doing something just for me.  I end up thinking that the time I write would be much better spent on money-making efforts - it seems self-indulgent to do anything else.

Augusten Burrough's mother worries me
I don't have a lot of confidence when it comes to my own writing.  Yes, I enjoy what I write and I write things I'd like to read.  But do I really think I write well?  Maybe for about two seconds out of every five hours.  Then the self doubt sets in.  I am reminded of Augusten Burroughs' mother in Running with Scissors, who was seen as a crazy, deluded, talentless woman who wasted her time trying to write.  I worry that person could be me.

Get a haircut and get a real job
Writing is not seen as a real job.  I have therefore spent many years trying on many other jobs.  Administration, accounts clerk, waitress, marketing, jillarooing - all great fodder for a literary career, but not really what I set out to do.  Ever since I left school, I've dreamt of writing.  I wanted to publish a book by the time I was 30.  This year I will be 40 and I still don't have one finished manuscript to my name.

An agent - found and lost
Actually, the truth of the last sentence is that I do have a finished manuscript.  It's for a children's book.  I sent it away to an agent in the mid 2000s.  I was signed up and it was sent off to a publisher.  During this process, the person who had signed me left the agency.  The owner of the agency then let me go.  She told the truth when she said she didn't have any other children's writers on her list.  It didn't stop me from suffering a broken heart.  Or experiencing another blow to my confidence.

My bottom drawer is a stereotype
The above-mentioned manuscript now sits in the bottom drawer - really it does!  I guess I should move it one drawer higher, if only to stop it from becoming a stereotype.

The truth about motherhood - apparently no one wants to read it
I have another project.  It is a fiction novel for adults and concentrates on the first year of motherhood.  It is a work in progress.  The former mentioned agent put me off writing this story. She said that publishers shy away from stories about post-natal depression.  Well, let them.  If I ever finish my manuscript (!), I will find another way to publish.  But only if people give me some good feedback first (please refer to my second point!)...

Sure anyone can have a blog and hit the publish button...
Mediocre writing can be easy but good writing is hard.  I start typing then I go back and edit straight away, trying to compose the perfect sentence.  This happens not only with my fiction writing, but on my blog as well.  I need to remember to write first, then edit another day.  Otherwise nothing, I repeat, nothing gets done.

The thief of time...
Time moves ever forward.  As I race towards my 40th birthday, there are things I need to do.  One was to finally move in to my own home.  Tick.  Next, commit to writing.  Tick.

Wise things my husband says
Passion.  The truth about finding it and following it, to make it happen.  I was talking to Joe about my writing late last year, saying I finally wanted to take that leap of faith and commit to writing.  After 12 years together, he's heard me say I want to write, oh about one or two....  billion times.  Which lead to one of the best things I've ever heard him say:

'You have to have your passions, Lucy, because where else would we be without them?'

Thank you, Joe, I will leave it right there!


  1. 1. You have moved house so your 'bottom drawer book' deserves a positive move too. Manuscripts like to get out into the world (and you need to be brave enough to let them).
    2. I heard a published writer interviewed recently, a fabulous lady who is now in her 90s, who didn't start to write until her 40s. You already write, so you have a head start
    3. The 'former agent' sounds like a giver of poor advice about subject matter for books. You just have to look at library shelves to prove it.
    4. Real life gets in the way...yes it does, but that is also when you are gathering all those life experiences that help you become a better writer.

    I'm not sure why I felt the urge to comment today. I am usually more of a reader than a commenter. I hope the comments come across with the positivity with which they are sent.

    1. Wow, Avril, your comments are amazing! I absolutely get the positivity with which they are sent! I'm delighted you took the time to give me such considered feedback. It was lovely to receive and I have taken everything you've said on board. I need to elevate my writing to the top shelf, metaphorically and physically! Thank you very much!

  2. This is a great post. So many truths right there. Now get that children's book out of the bottom drawer, dust it off, read it through, make the inevitable edits you will now see clearly and then SEND IT OFF TO SOMEONE ELSE. Really. Somebody once loved it enough to take it on. Now it's up to you to give it another chance.

    And thank you for the mention. I'm so glad you find the writing posts useful. I think the Starting Out series is wonderful - so many people have told me how helpful it is to see others at the same stage they're at. x

    1. HI Allison,

      Thank you so much for stopping by! I know, I do have to get the book out of that drawer. I think a rearrange of my office is in order!

      I'm very pleased to have given you a message - you've obviously taken a great deal of time and effort to put together your writing posts. They're providing very timely information for me and have given me a shot of inspiration.

      Keep up the great work!



  3. I agree with Joe! Where would you be without your passion! Now let us see where that passion will take you! I am looking forward to the journey with you, love Mrs A

    1. I'm looking forward to the journey too - somewhat nervous and excited all in one.