Recently I’ve been trying to focus myself more on the writing part of my life. After taking part in NaNoWriMo in November, and seeing my true capabilities, I thought it was only fair to share some of my thoughts with you.
Writing is a very controversial topic for many people and there are some that just don’t understand it. I recently had a discussion online with an individual who just didn’t seem to understand what we were talking about. He queried the standard of writing and asked ‘how do you know it’s any good’. What a great question and one that isn’t easily answered. If I’m honest with you, the guy really pee’d me off. I had to take a step away from the keyboard to find my cool.
But I was walking home one day after work and went to cross the road. It was one of those T-junctions onto a main road. This van had come from the hospital and was pulling up to the junction. He stopped a little back – usually a sign that they’re letting you cross. But the moment I put my foot out, he moved forwards. So of course, I jumped back before he waved me ahead of him. But that got me thinking…about writing of course.
How do you define a writer?
This is a hugely controversial question and something that is often discussed at length. But how do you know when you’re classed as a writer. Steven Voake – the children’s author – said it has something to do with confidence.
And I’d say he’s right.
You may be thinking, what on earth is she wittering on for – and you’re probably right to think that too. But more importantly you’re probably thinking, why is writing like crossing the road?
It’s simple – a leap of faith.
When you cross the road, you look both ways. Just to make sure you don’t see any cars coming and that’s before you step forward into the treacherous terrain where your life is essentially in danger. And when you’re in a situation like I was, you have to jump about a bit just to make sure you don’t get caught out.
Now bear with me, I’m getting to it.
Writing follows a similar process. The act of looking both ways is your thoughts. The ideas. The stories. They swirl around in your head and you try to make sense of them, of the situation. The moment you actually put pen to paper, is the moment you step into that road. You may feel like there’s a van driving towards you which is the motion of putting the pen down and leaving that draft as it stands, but the courage to step back out into the road – after an encouraging wave – is just like a supportive friend telling you can do it. So you sit back down and return to the journey you started.
Or perhaps that’s the easy bit, and you find yourself editing, and reediting your book, your short story or whatever it is you’ve written. It doesn’t matter how many times you check the road, left, then right, then left again, if the road is clear, it’s time to step out. So constantly editing is the same as waiting on the pavement for the road to be clear. Once the road is clear it’s time to publish. But one thing that people often forget is that you need to know when a piece of writing is ready to step out into the world. You may find yourself stepping out onto that road maybe four, five, or even six times. But publication is at the end of every road. JK Rowling was rejected before Bloomsbury found her, and even that was by chance. Stephen King used to hang his rejection letters up in front of his desk until someone liked Carrie. The fear of stepping out into that road can be something that haunts you for the rest of your life.
Writing is a very brave thing to do. And the most amazing bit of that is it can be done by everyone no matter their age. Stepping out into that road, even after checking it’s clear, is something that there’s no turning back from.
No-one said it would be an easy journey or even a short one, but having the confidence and the gall to cross that road is something we should all admire.