Note to my inner brat
Allaboutwriting is running a publishing month during November and have asked writers and publishers for guest blog posts on various aspects of the craft. Other pieces include posts by industry professionals like Janet van Eeden, David Chislett and Wesley Thompson. Here’s mine:
I’m in the middle of writing a solo novel and I’m having a bit of a wobbly at the moment. It was all going so well. I would get up, have ideas and batter out a couple of thousand words in the morning. For two days, that is. Before that was Monday and, of course, I had to reboot from the weekend. I’m a father of two young children, you understand. The week before was okay: a good day, a bad day, a mediocre day, two days lost to paying work. Don’t get me wrong, I like earning some money to help my wife pay the bills, but I really what I want to do is write. Except when I have the time to write, when I prefer to agonise.
Don’t you hate people who update you on their poxy word counts?
I work at home as a freelance editor, proofreader, general book-production guy, and this quarter I’m lucky enough to have two regular part-time retainers which allow me at least half my working days to write. I’ve jumped on this space to work on this solo novel, and realise that it may well be the last time I have the luxury of so much time to work on unsolicited, unpaying work.
It doesn’t always feel luxurious, arriving at the page in the morning knowing that time is finite and that I owe this draft to my family, who graciously allow me to idle at half-speed and indulge in my hobby instead of filling up my gaps with paid work, and to my writing partner, who’s patiently waiting until January to start our next collaborative novel – one that we’ve actually been paid an advance to write. It’s sort of like if you told your bank manager you were actually not going to repay that loan but were going to move to Tahiti and carve aardvarks out of coconuts. It’s utter self-indulgence, I know, and that knowledge often drives me to work on the novel rather than mess around.
But sometimes my inner brat rebels at all the pressure. It tells me in unconvincing hippie tones, ‘Chill out, what’s all the striving for?’ And despite the bad California accent, it’s rather compelling sometimes. Yes, I would rather play solitaire all day. Yes, I would rather treat my inner brat to a movie date. Yes, I would rather tweet and facebook all day and hope that people laugh at my jokes. Yes, I would rather lie on the floor and read my book.
NO, I wouldn’t. I’d like to write this novel.
More honestly, I’d like to have written this novel. I’m enjoying it. (I know there are lots of writers’ advice columns which warn you against enjoying your own work because it’s a sure sign that blah blah blah – but if you’re not enjoying it, I wonder, why will anyone else?) I wish I could read more than the half I’ve written. I want to know what happens. I can’t wait for my wife to read it, then my writing friends, then an agent who’ll fall off his chair because it’s so good and sign me up, then the publishers who will come to physical blows over it, then millions of fans and then the movie producers and then, and then, you know … and then.