Doubting Writer, Resurging Phoenix


The first quarter of 2017 is over and I’ve badly neglected my regular updates on this blog. A good friend has commented on these pages asking why I’d gone quiet and as this is a place where I try to discuss writing, I suppose I could try and articulate my current state of mind towards this craft/skill.

When you read authors saying that they need to write in order to understand what they think, it does resonate within me. Writing is after all, conducting a long conversation, most of the time with oneself. When you read something, there is a voice that fills your head, the voice of an opinion columnist for example or the noise of a novel with people, the background colour and the many individual stories. Words that are rendered with conviction speak to us in deep ways and that is the main reason why I, like many aspiring writers, seek to continue dredging, digging, delving, poking, prodding and looking for the words to gush forth and make an impact.

The past few months (coinciding with winter, I can say, which feels like one in a long line of lame excuses) have been testing times for my writing. So much so, that even after clearing my head of the daily stresses of life, when I get to the keyboard, the words come out in a shrunken form, a mutilated walnut of a foetus. They are cryptic to the point of being inscrutable and there is an absence of any vibrancy, when, earlier, they had filled my head, clamouring to be spilled out. The novel re-drafting feels tedious and pointless, the short-stories that used to easily go beyond 2000 words, now rarely exceed a thousand. There is a quick seizure and the words stutter and drop off – falling by the wayside, into the abyss or just forgotten. Dealing with submitting stuff to magazines and writing to agents feels like the most boring job on earth. It would  be very easy to pull the plug and say it’s over. But I guess this is the time for real resilience. To work through the tedious, crippling doubt is the test of anyone’s determination. Don’t we all want to sing Je ne regrette rien in our old age?

I know these pages have had more mentions of Roger Federer than literature and I’ll be the first to admit it. If I could have just a little bit of the courage he’s shown with his continuing resurgence, his clever change in technique, while retaining his killer instinct and hunger, I’d be over the moon. In these doubtful times, both in the wider world and the one that involves my writing, he is the one constant that shines the brightest. He is an entire galaxy that is GOAT (Greatest Of All Time). Spread your magic, please!


One Comment

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  1. Welcome back, resurgent phoenix, and be fierce! Here’s Steinbeck’s discovery as he wrote The Grapes of Wrath:
    ‘In writing, habit seems to be a much stronger force than either willpower or inspiration. Consequently, there must be some little quality of fierceness until the habit pattern of a certain number of words is established.’

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