Runcibility

SJG – an old / new author's blog.

I am battling an addiction.

Like any potent drug, it’s become an indelible part of me. Test my bones and you will find traces there.

I was exposed to this compulsion in early childhood and I still remember how it harnessed the passion of my teenage years. In the decades since, I’ve often broken the habit. I’ve refocused on all the things that I’m told are more constructive: a career, meaningful friendships and the pursuit of other hobbies.

I always fall off the wagon. I want to answer that primal call.

My addiction is writing. Is it yours?

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I have passed 10,000 words. This feels like a significant marker, although I know it’s just as arbitrary as any number. Perhaps it’s the presence of the extra zero that adds a certain weight to my efforts.

Or perhaps it’s the fact that I can see it in terms of 20%. What’s the significance of 20%? If I pick up a book I value and I flip to the place where the tale is 20% told, I can derive some satisfaction from the thought that maybe, just maybe, I too have got to the hub of the story – the place where momentum has swept up a reader and will carry her to through the end, come what may.

 

Time is a resource. Time which could be spent on writing is always precious and even if it doesn’t generate a finished product.

A quick google will turn up countless writing resources and tips. Try it. Give it a click.

Scroll your way past the sponsored content and advertisements, past the inducements to get you published or improve your craft; down, down to the endlessly-regurgitated collection of quotes from the same five famous authors and the books about writing which you are told you must buy. There are a million hits for writing tips. It’s a minefield out there. It’s full of content and it’s full of distractions.

We all know that everyone wants our money, but everyone is also competing for our time.

There is no such thing as a quick fix for the writer. We all know this, but in dry moments we still hope. Whether a novice or a seasoned scribbler, whether published or commercially-clueless, whether in the grip of writer’s block or as a series of self-imposed distraction techniques, we all fight the same battle. We want a quick fix. We want a kick. We want a magical solution. We want to avoid the blank page or the self-doubt or the sentence that just will not take shape.

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A thousand sites promise to fight it with us, but beware. Our time could be better spent writing.

I have come to think of writing as a process and not a way of generating an end product. The more I write, the more likely it is that I will do one of two things: I will actually find that magical spot and generate something I can use or, even more miraculously, something I like. Or I will simply train myself to write instead of not writing. Not writing is easy. Writing is hard. This is playing a long game without any expectation of instant productivity. Eventually, this will pay off when I find that magical spot again.

I fully acknowledge the potential irony here: I’m writing about writing and not actually writing. I’m also offering a writing tip which is to be wary of distractions exactly like mine.

However, I am writing, if not writing what I need to write. This is my long game.

Now it’s really time to write.

Writers are surely an insecure breed, in constant need of reassurance.

For a start, we have proclaimed ourselves writers. That epithet carries an unspoken weight beyond the obvious definition of she who writes. We’ve elevated ourselves to the same category as each reader’s favourite author. We showcase the extent of our imaginative skills to a world that both craves and then instantly discards a progression of creative ideas. We’re called on to sound different, individual, truthful – whatever that means. Our writing voice has to be heard in a chorus of thousands. Millions, even, in a world that’s now digital and instantly accessible.

Writing constantly requires us to be brave. The themes we choose reveals something intimate to the world at large. We are like actors, using our own life experiences to flesh out the bones of our words, mixing the personal with the intellectually absurd and asking for judgement. It’s hard to truly separate the two when we get it. And if we ask, or even if we don’t, it comes from every well-wisher, critic and troll; bluntly, subjectively and indifferently and if we’re lucky, constructively too. Good feedback may assuage our doubts, but it doesn’t help us improve.

We want validation, but we really need honesty.

Suddenly, I can smell baked tarmac and sap. The haze of summer fills my lungs. My feet are sticky with grass stains and heat is everywhere, hard on brick and skin and clotting the air. I hear laughter, quick and light. Beneath the scent of roses something sweet and rotten lies thick on my tongue.

The dream steals my senses first. I smell it, taste it. I hear layers of sound. I feel my body stretch and tighten as it is sucked into a different time and place.  There is no escape.

By SJG. From Lost Summer

 

I’m busy editing.

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