In the last week or so, I have been the unwilling recipient of a couple of social media items, which I regard as having been transmitted from planet Mongo by a certain evil emperor bent upon divorcing me from the literary community. Why so? Be patient, I shall explain...
What really set me off on a silent rage was a FaceBook (mustn't forget to capitalise the 'B') post which was asking 'us' (writers) all to comment on a quote which described writing as some kind of physical torture - in fact if I remember correctly, it drew a literal parallel to physical agony - and therefore implied that writing is possibly the most difficult thing that anyone in the world has ever had to do, and aren't we all heroes for putting up with the burden? I may have embellished just a little there, but I know you'll forgive me.
I have a few issues with this nonsense, but in order to protect your tired, festivities-fatigued eyes from a post filled with the old Anglo-Saxon favourite expletive, I shall limit myself to a couple of principles only, and shall provide a simple key:
* = fuck
** = fucking
Ahem....I was going to write *cough* then, but I thought that you might have thought that I'd already begun swearing...a slight flaw in my cunning system. Ahem. Here I go:
What complete fucking bollocks (sorry, that one slipped through) such an idea is. *! Writing - and I've been writing for a few years now: that is actually doing the writing thing, even if I'm not exactly well-known - is NOTHING like physical pain, let alone agony or torture! What incredible dramatic, entiltled arrogance it is to suggest that a writer's lot can be compared to anyone who has suffered or is suffering such misfortune! It beggars belief that anyone can agree to this ** garbage - yet agree they did, on FaceBook, and in droves. It highlights the absolute ** worst of the up-myself 'artiste' who believes it desirable or perhaps fashionable to be angst-ridden, or of ** course: 'tortured'.
Unless I'm doing this wrong, I've never once experienced the act of writing - or trying to write - as being comparable to having thousands of volts sent through my ** gonads, or having my fingernails pulled out one at a time, or having a cordless drill repeatedly pushed into my skull. * (again)! I've never once known anything akin to the neurologial pain that I've undergone, while trying to work out how to best construct a sentence, a passage, a chapter - or even merely waiting for some inspiration. I have, it's true, one in a while caught my little toe on the leg of the chair when I've been 'in the zone' and have assumed a hunched, almost crouched posture over the keyboard, but I have a hard time equating that to the tribulations of someone battling grievous injury or illness. Frankly, the idea is ** laughable - or rather, it would be if it wasn't so ** insulting to anyone in such a position. *.
I despise this false angst, this 'oh, look at me, I'm a writer in turmoil' approach to the act of putting words into print. Shut up and get on with it, or don't, is what I say. Writing is about what you produce, and little else.
As for the 'hard work' part of this approach to the craft, well I don't know who the * these people think they are, but I'm willing to bet that the overwhelming majority of them has never done a day's hard ** work in their lives. Sometimes getting it right (or more accurately: getting it how I want it to be) can be frustrating - even maddeningly so - but that's really as far as it goes in the real world. Claims to the contrary are, to my tiny mind, nothing less than utter ** garbage. Anyone who seriously believes that writing is hard work needs to receive a very large dose of perspective, preferably administered by suppository. Without lubrication.
Let me pause to catch my ** breath here...phew.
The purpose of this blog is not to dramatize the process of writing - in fact, if anything, it's the opposite. One of the things I'm trying to share and illustrate is what the experience of writing - and hopefully one day becoming a professional writer - is like for an ordinary person. I don't wear tuxedos to dinner or do lines of cocaine in the bathroom (I'd only get it confused with the talcum powder, anyway). I don't drink myself under the table every night and awake in a haze of French tobacco smoke, thence to start hammering away on my trusty typewriter while my greasy hair flops around my eyes, and ruthlessly ignoring the attentions of a gorgeous woman (whom, by the way, I have badly mistreated, like the complete bounder I am) in the process. Bollocks, all of it.
As you may have noticed, I have no patience with drama queens; I don't believe what they say and I don't trust them. Many - I suspect - have diagnosable disorders of mood or personality or both, which create an insatiable need for attention. I have no time in my life for such rubbish. They can all * off.
So, let's have some balance...For me, writing is...well, it's an ordinary part of my life: often it can simply be about finding the time to put some thoughts down into words. It's about doing a little bit of writing here and there, sometimes at work, sometimes in-between walking the dog and going food shopping. It's a question of slowly building a manuscript, little pieces at a time. It's about not writing when I want instead to savour the company of my loved ones. It's about forgetting many of the ideas that I have (because I've never got around to keeping that notebook and pencil in my pocket) and feeling foolish and annoyed with myself about it. It's about going to work to earn a living, it's about daydreaming of being 'discovered', and it's about being realistic and accepting that the odds are enormously stacked against me. It's just something that I do.
Most of all, it's about the end product, published or otherwise. What I write and push out into the world is, ultimately, why I do it. I'm not hugely talented, I'm certainly not gifted, and I'll very probably never be anything more than a permanent bottom-dweller in the world of Amazon sellers lists. However, I enjoy writing. I enjoy the process and the feeling of - once in a while - writing something that I am pleased with. It bothers me that some people - often the ones with the loudest voices - wish to turn writing into some pseudo-battle, seemingly to earn themselves merit. Frankly, a swift kick in the unmentionables is what they need, in order to better understand what real pain feels like.
Writing: painful and hard work? Don't make me laugh...