19 Jan 2011

Confession Time

(Honesty noun - The quality of being Honest adj. - telling the truth or able to be trusted and not likely to steal, cheat or lie Etym. - From the Latin `honestestas` meaning honor, honest or virtue.)

The aim of Word of The Week (WoTW) is to make me bring the focus of this blog back to writing at least once a week - as that was one of the main reasons I started blogging. The idea is that I'll talk about a word but show how I think it relates to the craft of writing, if that makes any sense. (Although last week's WoTW was not focused on writing, the previous week it was.) This week's WoTW is Honesty.

Weirdly the inspiration for this WoTW struck when I was in a seminar this morning - don't ask me how i get involved in these things - on the topic of coaching. One of the thoughts I had about coaching was that it seemed to me all about someone encouraging you to be honest with yourself about yourself and what you want. Bingo - WoTW found - tick off the list for today!

It made me think about how as I, as a writer (and yes, I am finally counting myself as one, being honest here) should be more honest with myself about my writing and what I want from it. Sometimes it feels like  the advice I've read about writing and writers and literature isn't all that honest; it can seem a little prescriptive and conformative (sorry, not sure if that's even a word). 

For example i think the general external perception of writing is that one must always be working towards the greatest work of literature ever produced, that to want to be published is wrongetty wrong wrong, that you should be a slave to your art etc etc. Clearly, for most published authors this is not the case, but even within writing circles I feel like there is a little bit of snobbery over what constitutes an acceptable attitude towards one's own writing.

I would guess that the majority of writers out there (published or not) are working away in spare rooms, coffee shops, squeezing time to write around day jobs that pay the bills and partners and kids and well, real life. Some of us write on the bus, on the tube and the train. I am guessing I am not alone in having inspiration strike at massively inopportune moments - mainly during my working day - yet I do not have the liberty to drop everything and bash out a few 1000 words. Neither, should I add, that if writers block strikes, can I wander amongst the daffodils. I have to write when i have time, regardless of whether the words are there or not. Else it doesn't happen at all. It does sometimes make me question why I bother to write.

So I would like to be honest here and say the biggest secret I have been keeping about my writing is............I dream of being published, I do, really, perhaps that's not a huge surprise but I am ashamed of admitting that in public. So often I have seen it said that you should not write to be published etc - and I'm not writing to be published but equally, it is one of the goals I am working towards with my writing.

Linking into this, if I'm honest, the possibility (tiny though it may be) of being published is something that helps motivate and focus me, otherwise what am I doing all this for? Clearly being published is only one of the reasons I write - I love my book and I am in love with my characters (wld like to point out I don't think my book is amazing, but I love it anyway, like old slippers). My book is comforting, it is non judgemental, it demands nothing of me save what I chose to give it. And at this stage of my life, I am finding it very rewarding to write - the creativity it demands is really helping me be more productive and creative at work - weird huh. I guess it would surprise you all to think that I don't really consider myself a creative person.

So this post is dedicated to all the writers and authors out there, for when it's really getting tough and it's hard not to lose hope and what WTF are we really doing here.  Well take time to think about yourself and consider what do you really want from your writing? More importantly, are you getting it? If not, why not? After all, as every Jewish Princess know (moi included) if you don't ask you don't get. I hope that this post inspires maybe someone out there to think about what you want from your writing and take the first step to getting there. Isn't that a little bit exciting + empowering?

I really welcome your comments and thoughts on this - good or bad (can't promise I won't cry!). It interests me.

Thank you and good night.

Stupidgirl has left the building


  1. I think, deep down, that if we are truly honest with ourselves, that we all want to be "discovered" as being a great talent (in whichever field) and to say we're doing whatever it is we're doing for the sake of art is a denial. I hope you do get published. Dibs on an ARC :)

  2. WTF are we really doing here? That's a great question. I ask myself this very question regarding my photography. I take time to think about what I want from it but more importantly what I can bring to it all the time. For now, the only answer I have is: I just need to do it. Simple as that. And if someone enjoys what I do and stops and thinks because of it, my heart swells with joy beyond description. I guess this is my goal for now. You shouldn't be ashamed to state yours out loud!

  3. Nic - that's very true actually. Art for art's sake is not that realistic in some cases. What's an ARC?? Thanks for taking the time to comment as well, much appreciated

    Serena - If you need to do it, thats a great reason, a compulsion to do something is a great driver, That's how I felt about writing about a year ago. We should say what we want out loud. It makes it real and it makes you make a commitment to achieving it I think

  4. I dreamed of being published, and getting shed loads of money and fame from the moment I set out on this merry or not so merry road of writing. I make no bones about it.
    If you don't have a goal, what is the point? Okay it took years, no one else ever believed it would happen, cept me. Belief in yourself is vital. Its the glue that holds you together, helps you cope with rejection. I never wanted a Booker prize, I'm just a storyteller. I suspect people who sneer at commercial fiction are just not story tellers, and they know it. Like you say its all about honesty. I want to write popular books. Ever heard of anyone wanting to write an unpopular one?
    Too much is talked about writing, let's just get on with it and entertain people. Simples.

  5. Wow I am so touched that you commented on this. It really gives me (and other writers) hope to know that it is `normal` to feel like this. I do just want to make people happy, with my story, whatever it is. I think it's natural to want to succeed at something you do. The kind of success you've had people dream of but it's from hard work and believe and also because you are an excellent story teller and your success and sales are tribute to that!

  6. Bravo! People in all fields crave recognition. There is absolutely nothing wrong with it. You're talented and already well on the right track. Submit editorials to London papers on a par with NY's village Voice or Philadelphia's City Paper et al. I'm sure your town has at least a few like that. You'll get 'by lines' and build a following (not to mention a portfolio) Talk about life in the big city, trends, 'people are saying.' You CAN do this!

  7. Interesting!

    I'm quite the opposite - I make no bones about wanting recognition. After all there's only so much I can write and keep at home without showing to anyone!

    Since I was a little girl I have wanted to be an author. And by definition I think being an author is synonymous with being published.

    After all, who is an author without readers?

  8. I think it's really true! We all want to be recognised for the things that we do well, whilst the things we do less well can be ignored quite happily. Great post

  9. Wow, I am so touch by all your lovely comments and the interesting points you've raised. I was v scared about posting this but clearly it was ungrounded!

    Steph + Rachel - we do indeed like to be recognised and i think denial of this just leads to disaster. It's good to try to reach out for what you want.

    Will - thank you, that's really kind of you to say that! I will have a think about what to do.

    Keep reading + commenting folks!

  10. I will say it in all caps: I WANT TO BE PUBLISHED.

    And not for my kids or my husband (although it would be nice for them to have their sacrifices on behalf of my writing validated).

    But I want to be published for me.

    I want to hold my book in my hands and open the cover and fold back the pages until the spine almost cracks with joy.

    And I will keep working toward that dream; I will continue to enjoy the journey; to appreciate the process that is writing. I love everything about it in fact(except, perhaps, for the lack of pay).

    But what I've most recently grown to love: Being embraced by a community of writers who "get it." Who know the stresses and joys of cobbling words into sentences; sentences into paragraphs and then pages and chapters. And hope.

    Always the hope. That someone else will deem the words worthy of reading.

    We can always hope. And in the meantime, we can accept the support of other writers.
    Who understand.

  11. I don't tend to dither about how I write fiction. It seems easier to me to write fiction than non-fiction and I think if anyone reads it and enjoys it, that's fine. If they don't, it's hurtful, but often it's more about me getting an idea down on paper and out of my system.

    I have more of a problem writing music - I was often distracted by trying to decide what my music style was (I love punk/new wave, electronic pop, orchestral music and prog. rock) and I used to spend hours tweaking my music because I was trying to please people I thought might listen to it and I'd be trying to squeeze it into these genres. I don't bother now. It comes out whichever way it comes out - if it's an orchestral instrumental great, if it's a track that sounds like it was recorded on a bontempi by a five year old that's great too... and if people like it that's great (lots of people don't), but if I'm happy with the end result that will do me.

  12. Julie - exactly! It's the journey too that's great but I think we should be able to say what we want without fear of being sneered at right! You're also so right about the writing community - that's what I love about blogging + twitter. It's the support network and you get what you give!

    Gary - go you! Who cares what other people think as long as it makes you happy. Sounds like you're pretty talented + know your stuff about music too!

    Thanks for your comments, both of you