My blog opened with a post entitled 'Tippy Tap', and if you scroll down a little you will find it there still. It consists entirely of a two word title and nothing else, entirely because the competence of my webhost is such that, after I wrote and posted it onto the internetwebthingumabob, he/she/they/it managed to erase it, and lose it forever. Now, taking my cue from Sir Winston Churchill, I have decided to never surrender, and to try and reconstruct that post – or more realistically, at least convey the essence of it. Here I go then:
As a new writer I occupy a strange limbo-like existence, hovering uncertainly between ignorance and originality; dangling uncomfortably between horrific mistakes and amusingly different perspectives. On one hand I feel uncomfortable in my freshness, as I’ve already mentioned in ‘Noo. Schmoo’(see below), but on the other hand I also harbour a grudging sense of pride (no doubt misplaced) about having lived a life before I decided to start writing about it, and having mostly avoided formal education in my adult life. I’m teaching myself as I go along. I feel good (in an inverted snobbery way) about the fact that I’m just doing this, casting my fate upon the wind and waiting to see what happens.
This feeling is largely driven, I have to say, by my gut response to the plethora of emails and facebook posts that I receive daily from a great many sources ostensibly within the literary world, which exhort me to do this or do that as a sure fire way to enjoy success with my writing. Quotes from famous authors (many of whom I don’t enjoy) are spewed out as truth, despite an enormous amount of contradiction between them all. The only way to approach writing is this, Mark Twain might have said, while Grumpy Hemingway told us all that no,no,no, that is the only way to do it. And so on – advice and encouragement in the form of instructions to the ignorant and unsuccessful. It seems to be an industry in itself.
The point of what I do is to write my way, as myself, with only minor adjustments to make what I say more readable. For example, I tend leave out the generous sprinkling of profanity which delicately laces my everyday storytelling like gossamer sledgehammers, much as I remove the occasional random noise and extraordinarily unpleasant facial expressions that I am prone to apply during a conversation with my dearest and dearest, when speaking to those outside my immediate family circle. With just the occasional tweak, therefore, I write as me, which is the only way I know how – I wouldn’t really have a clue about how to do it another way. Anything else would be a fraud, and if what and how I write fails to reach a wide audience, so be it.
For me, writing isn’t about selling (although a little of the latter would help me achieve my goal of doing more of the former); it’s about the writing itself. If that sounds a little sanctimonious, it isn’t intended to be so. Writing is something that I increasingly feel driven to do, for better or worse. With the underlying motivation of leaving a tangible legacy for my descendants, success is not measured in literary worth, but more so in terms of leaving behind a flavour of who I am and what I have done during my life.
Exhortations to do it this way or that way or the other way fall, therefore, on deaf ears (my left ear is more deaf than the right one, by the way) simply because I am unable to relate to somebody else’s way of doing it. The online literary community is unfortunately developing into a rather snobbish, patronising and altogether unpleasant entity in my universe. Take, for example, an experience that I had recently when conversing with an editor, who, when hearing that I was looking for a proofreading service, told me that she did not undertake projects if she was not ‘working with the author at a much earlier stage in the creative process’. I was appalled, and recoiled from her rebuttal. In my little ignorant world, the creative process is mine, and mine alone – once again, for better or worse. The idea of somebody else shaping my creation from an early stage is something which flies in the face of the very purpose of putting pen to paper (or rather; finger to keyboard).
The bottom line is this: if you like my style and my content, that makes me very happy – and I would love to hear from you if so. If you don’t like my style, content, or anything else, then I’m a little saddened but otherwise OK with it. You’re of course entitled to feel that way, and I am under no illusions about pleasing everybody – but like a child, I would prefer to do so. Regardless, I’ll continue to do what I’m doing; most importantly building a legacy for my family, and enjoying the hell out of it in the process.
The ‘tippy-tap’ of my keyboard will continue. Thank you for getting this far with me.