There’s a mug of tea to my left, sitting next to a slice of un-iced Christmas cake that I’ve spread with butter. A low lamp is to my right, casting a dim yellow light below my eye-line. Somewhere above, a lemongrass candle is filling the room with a calming freshness. And then there’s me, at a mechanical keyboard, staring at computer screen. This is a scene that occurs quite frequently, I guess you can call it my writing mode.
I’ve been doing some pondering of late. Pondering this whole writing lark. I’ll admit I’m at a weird stage. My first book is out there, wandering the world, slowly spreading the word. People seem to like it. Part of me thinks that should be enough, but then, back when I was making music we used to toy with the idea that once the tunes were good they would find an audience. We didn’t play the PR game. We didn’t play many games, we focused on playing music and perhaps that cost us. Back then, we had opportunities to play the game, but now, on my own in book land, well, I’ll admit I’m feeling somewhat lost.
Writing is one of those magical things that millions dream of as a career, but the success rate is so low that you constantly need to analyse why you’re chasing the wind. OK, maybe you don’t need to analyse, but it’s good to establish the why, because if you’re anything like me, you’ll be regularly filled with doubt.
This post isn’t about convincing anyone that I’m a good writer. This is about explaining why I know I’m not wasting my time.
And it all comes back to where I am right now and what I’m doing.
I read Stephen King’s “On Writing” last year. It really gave me the push to do yet another revision of Diary of the Wolf. The book also filled me with doubt. Stephen King seems to have lived to write, everything was geared towards it, as if he pursued it with dogged determination that never drifted. I look at myself and wow, I’m a drifter.
I started studying journalism as something interesting to do while I wrote books (and also something to keep the parents off my back.) I did start writing Diary of the Wolf during that period (about 10 years ago, ouch!) but I found myself distracted by music and so many other things. Yes, I kept coming back to writing, but, where was my Stephen King non-stop drive? It’s something that has wriggled in the back of my mind and keeps coming back whenever I see a week of no sales or some non-writing quasi-celeb securing a book deal out of the blue.
Yet, despite all the doubts, writing has become my life without me realising.
Every day on the bus to work, I write. Every evening, after work, I write. I have stack of games waiting to be played and superficially I think “I have no downtime, I should play more games” but tonight I realised that writing isn’t work, writing is my downtime. Maybe it took effort once, maybe it was a grind, but I pushed past that. Now it’s something I just do whenever I can.
So, am I wasting my time by writing? Definitely not. Why? Because I enjoy it, I’m proud of what I’m writing and now I realise it’s part of who I am.