You may have noticed my absence this week. I trust I am not being presumptuous by hoping so. I got tangled up in a professional opportunity that involved me going back into my portfolio, digitizing and bringing 10 years of work up to date in 10 days of frantic scrambling.
I didn’t even peep my head around the door to see you guys. You noticed? You see, I knew the craic in the room would pull me in.
And now, here I am, back but wearing an ankle monitor.
Well, more of that in a minute.
Firstly, this morning I stumbled upon a list of the 10 worst pieces of advice writers have been given and this one really struck me:
Don’t Be Selfish!
‘Don’t be selfish’—that’s one you hear a lot, especially growing up from parents, guardians, teachers and so on. It’s terrible advice for writers though. Writing practically demands that one exhibit a high degree of selfishness. Not I hasten to add with regard to money, prizes and acclaim but when it comes to time, that most definitively finite of commodities. Can you taste it in the back of your mouth? The almost tangibly metallic tang of wasted time as you sit there reading this blog? Writing, especially for those of us not in the position to go at it full-time, requires a maniacal degree of possessiveness about your every spare quarter hour. It means letting down and fobbing off lovers and dependents, cousins and confidants. You have to master the gentle art of inflicting disappointment.
Oh, amen, brother.
This coincides with a conversation I had a couple of days ago with a writer friend who has been seeing a girl for some months and really likes her. As their relationship grows he finds it harder to carve out his writing time and feels her disappointment when he slopes off to write. Only another writer understands this compulsion that tugs you away from fun and friends and all things good and wholesome. She, not being a writer, thinks it’s a reflection of how he feels about her. His predicament is how to make her understand that it’s not that he doesn’t want to be with her, but that if he doesn’t write he will be absent from the relationship even when he’s physically with her.
My week away has made me realize I must selfishly curb my time hanging out here. It’s like when my mum used to answer the door to my little schoolfriend and respond “No, Jacqueline cannot come out to play today as she has homework to do.” As the door closed, I’d be at the kitchen table scowling but knew better than to argue. I find myself in the same position. I must sacrifice some WordPress playtime for the Microsoft Word grindstone if my second novel is ever to see the light of day. But fret not (again I hope I’m not being too presumptuous to imagine there might be a flicker of disappointment occurring somewhere out there) I’ll definitely be by twice a week with posts and comments––which was my initial aim but then, gosh darn it, you guys were just so much fun I started coming around more and more. Soon it was every bleedin’ day!
Don’t worry, we’ll still spend quality time together, I promise. I’ll bring cupcakes and flasks of milky tea. I’ll bring my second novel…soon…ish…
On another note, do I need to invest in a quill..? WIll that make the magic happen faster? Make me more prolific? Huh? Leave your thoughts and I’ll check back later––Doh!! No, that’s not the new way…mutters to self in chastising tone…(ankle bracelet hums, alerting authorities offender has gone out of allowed range..)
Read complete list of bad advice writers have been given.
My debut novel, Silk for the Feed Dogs, written when I had a greater wealth of concentrated thinking, is available. You can buy it here.