Sunday, 11 January 2009

Numpty Strikes Out Again

Not that I wish to start the year on a negative note - and aware, also, that I'm running a little late with the resolutions part of the new year - but my ambition for 2009 was, I'm afraid, born of A Bit Of An Emo.

Looking back at last year's resolutions, I don't think I've done too badly, money aside, and I was doing pretty well with that until the credit crunched - or, as Ian put it, the arrival of the money munch.

I did escape England and in six weeks I'll be doing so again on my Yankland extravaganza with W*P*D - I might be a year late, but I'm going to Las Vegas to see Vici after all. I did learn new skills, I did read better (I'm even a regular reader of The Spectator these days) and I did, in general terms, Be Better, although not in the specific ways I had planned. Tim is going to need to buy those bigger robes and grow his beard, as his position as Entertainment Guru (barring the unpleasant experience of watching The Spirit) was fully secured. And I carried through one particular resolution that changed everything else along with it - I never spoke of it here, and still won't, but most of you know what I'm on about. And if not, feel free to ask.

And, best of all, I discovered just how talented and amazing all my friends are, and got to spend a considerable amount of time investigating said marvellousness and then boasting that I know them. That wasn't on the list, but I count it as an achievement.

But then there's the downside: I'm not a lot closer to finishing the dusty book that's plagued me for so long. I wrote some, promptly hated it (as is my wont) and set it aside for a while, telling myself it would come when it was ready - then changed that thought to: "Well maybe it's not the one I should start with, it's a bit ambitious what with all the research and trying to talk like an Egyptian". That's talk, not walk.

So I started a new one, stunning myself one evening with a cracking idea that not only fed into all my geeky loves in life - angels, fantasy and so on - but would also let me write in the style I'm comfortable with. Perfect, I thought, and sat down to write the first page.

It was met with varying reactions. W*P*D declared it hilarious and immediately offered to illustrate every chapter (if you've seen any of her paintings, you'll know just how hoppingly exciting that is) and Tim and Ghost liked the idea and are considering donating chapters of their own.

But then I sent it to MummyC, who said only that it was overwritten and awkward. I rewrote it, she liked it better, but both Ghost and I think it's completely lost its soul.

Which triggered a realisation. When it comes to writing, I'm perfectly happy wittering away on this blog - and on Perplexed and the City - and I've never had any qualms when it comes to tapping the keyboard at work. I think the number of magazine articles I've seen published now tops the 100 mark - I have a portfolio of them up here, if you're particularly lacking for things to do, but please bear in mind they weren't written for the intellectual portion of society. It's not an achievement I ought to dismiss, but somehow I do.

The second I open the files for either of my books, I immediately want to slit my wrists - I can't relax into it, so it comes out self-consciously. I go back to them frustrated, read them over, hate what I've written with every fibre of my being and throw a small tantrum that ends with a sworn oath to NEVER BLOODY BOTHER AGAIN.

I've wanted to write fiction since I was a child. I vaguely recall mentioning this before - I can't be bothered to check - but I first had a go at writing a book when I was about 13. It went marvellously: it was based on the wonderfully cheesy Point Horror series and managed to include virtually every possible means of killing off your characters within 100 pages. I had classmates sat next to my desk waiting for me to finish the next page and then passing it round - mind you, I cunningly named characters after some of them in an early demonstration of marketing prowess. A fair number of other attempts followed as the years went by, but not one of them is finished, and I eventually lost the will to try.

It wasn't until I met Ghost that I realised just how well I'd walled off that part of me with bricks made of stupid excuses. Watching his constant creativity, going starry-eyed over everything he creates, tapping into his ever-artistic brain (it was he who inspired the newest of my never-to-be-a-books), passing many a happy hour talking of plots and characters and ideas - it woke back up the hunger, and with it the fear.

Because the truth is, I'm just scared to fail.

Then what would I dream of?

And that long-winded explanation brings me to this year's belated resolution: I will write The Guardians (the new one), without flailing back and forth to find reasons not to and without sneaky avoidance tactics. And what's more, I'll write it without coming back the next day and whining that I don't like what I've written, oh yes I will.

Because if I don't, W*P*D is going to be stuck with an empty wall where the paintings ought to be and I'll still be irritating everyone by complaining I can't do it without finding out whether I can when I'm old, grey and can't see the keyboard.

p.s. I just realised I wrote this post instead of getting on with the book. Oh the irony.


Anonymous said...

omg do I feel you. do i ever feel you. substitute book for screenplay and you are speaking my very thoughts.

As soon as I had the time available to write, I flailed and lost it and couldn't write out of sheer frozen fear.

I advise us both to Do It. Just Do It. Don't look back, just write write write write like a mofo. expect to hate every word but don't over-edit until you get to the end. then go back and make it better.

in other words, brain dump, but leave the critic behind at first.

Abimbola said...

Hey, WillowC, good post:-)

Good luck with the book(s). I look forward to helping with proof reading your first completed book.

Shelly@Moonshine said...

You'll regret this post. I'm the biggest nag in SL. Tho I prefer to call it your personal cheerleader.
And I have a deep love of reading. So, that being said, I'll be impatiently awaiting you to follow thru on this and gently poking you if you are shirking :D

Willis said...

Well you know how I feel cos I told you last night, but I'm sending hugs and commenting anyway

Pignut said...

DO IT NOW! Stop reading your blog comments and DO IT!

I know how you feel though - when you write for a living, you don't want to do the same thing in your spare time, unless it's in easily-manageable bitesize chunks.

But surely you remember the feeling you get when you've just written something amazing or had a brilliant idea...? I'd recommend writing some short stories or poems to get that feeling back without the pressure.

Come on, dear - the creative world can't lose your talent. It was you who came up with Point Bollock, after all.

Tim said...

Two words: Writer's Circle.

Although with Borders closing earlier these days we don't have a good place to do it. Humph!

Sound'r said...

Very glad to hear you changed your mind!

Casandra Shilova said...

Write what you love, overwritten or not in others'estimation or not. That way you can put your spirit into it and hopefully find a publisher that thinks it has potential.

I know a couple of authors and an illustrator in RL. Much of it as you know is just plugging away at it. One of them is rarely completely happy, but she reaches a level of being satisfied with the piece and is getting work published.

More power to you!

Mabel Morris-Minor said...

dont make me make you look bad by getting my book published before you!!!! lmao i have oooooo 5000 words written on megabites and another 30000 in my head ;o)
but i have kids and house and tattoo and cats and school runs! so, beat me to it, i dares ya! and stop reading it, write it all first, then read it, and get others to read it before hacking at it.

watch*paint*dry said...

Ah Willow. Aren't we all afraid of failing? nd aint that a bitch? At least on The Guardians we can all fail together. Or dare to succeed. Either way I will do it very happily. And it shall be ours, however it turns out. And it will turn out because I can't be having an empty wall now! I plan to stay painfully positive this year. Irritatingly so, are you ready?

Who knows, some colour may creep into the Guardian paintings.


M said...

Hey, whatever you write and w*p*d illustrate, consider me your first customer, I'll definitely buy it xxx

steve said...

i think my sisters book is going to make her enoug money to buy me a penguin.

enough of this inteligent talk.

peave out.

from 'the bro'

steve said...

oooo miss type.
oops :)