Been a bit quiet of late here, I make to no apologies since this a blog, not a cure for cancer. But if you want explanations, there’s been life, study and assignment deadlines, work and the odd random visit to hospital. As you do. Anyway, none of the above have stopped me from writing and thinking about writing and other stuff either. So here you go.
There’s terrible dangers for writers, or perhaps, just for me. The danger of comparison, of competition and judgement. As much as the achievements of others energise me, I admit they can also be a drain. I don’t know, it’s not quite jealousy or defeat, sort of an ennui where I’m irritated not by their works so much as by my failures, perceived or real. And an idea that I’m running out of time.
Obviously these are flaws.
Sometimes the achievements of others blinds me to everything worthy in what I have done until all I see are just tiny bits of average. I admit to reading the ‘winning’ stories or published stories and not seeing how they stood out from the crowd or stood above what I did. Other times I can see exactly what I needed to do with a story, about 10 minutes after an editor suggests something like moving the last sentence to the title (or some such).
So you see writing is full of pettiness, loneliness and doubt. Or maybe, again, that’s just me. If I was an opal miner in some outback spot, just digging away in the dim quiet of a mine shaft at least I would understand that if I produced opals people would value them, pay for them. Of course if I was an opal miner who just dug up dirt then…whatever, I’m tired so it’s finish your own analogy day here.
Sorry, what I’m trying to say is that writing is like being down the mine shaft and its difficult to know if you’ve got opals or fool’s gold. Or something.
Furthermore, I write to, quite literally, please myself and sometimes I question whether my own critical faculties are up to ensuring what I write is any good. And yet I also write to be read, which is why those moments when an email or even letter arrives confirming Magical Publication feel like my entire existence is vindicated. For a moment acceptance is proof of ability, confirmation of self-worth and justification of everything. But, like a drug, eventually the elation of publication and even positive reception, wears off. I return to the coal face/opal mine of writing and submitting and wait full of trepidation, for another hit. I imagine these hypothetical drugged opal miners have a bucket load of problems. Anyhoo.
Perhaps I put too much into the idea of publication, too much pressure on myself. I’m lucky to have been published at all given the immense competition out there and how little I do write.
And the sad glorious thing is even though I’m aware of this, even though I know writing hasn’t made me a fortune and has probably cost me more than I’ve ever made, I continue. I continue in much the same way as Gatsby, probably, foolishly trying to capture the future where, both of us, Gatsby and me, will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . And one fine morning—
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the
past analogous remote opal mine of writing.
Damn, should’ve started with Gatsby and gone with another simile. Too late.
Anyhow, now you’re here, you can go visit these cos they might be lonely:
A Vigil on Lucy’s Night at Danse Macabre Du Jour
And this one here
There’ll Be Nothing Left, Except My Shoes at Extract(s)