On not

6 Jul

I’ve been reading a lot about creativity lately, particularly about writing, but about creating more generally. And particularly about doing it. About sticking your bum to the seat, about putting in the time, about letting the housework go. And so on. I’ve got myself good goals and am filled with optimism and the joy of getting it done. I’m more or less sticking to my programme of little bits lots of times, stitch by stitch, step by step, brick by brick and so on.

Now, I’m not sure why, but all this reading has led me to wonder about all the people who don’t become writers. All the brazillions* of people who go to weekend workshops, join groups, find mentors, go on retreats, invest in scrivener, but don’t, in the end, write ‘writer’ on their departure card.

I know some of them become lawyers or travel agents or gardeners or nurses instead. Some of them are lazy or unfocussed or find they’re better at something else. Some of them are handed lives which making writing impossible. And a not-small number must be a bit like me, setting plans and meaning to get onto it, just as soon as I am settled in to Abu Dhabi, once I’m back from Edinburgh, after Christmas, once I finish work and so on and etcetera.

But some of them, one or two at least, must, at some point, have looked around and thought, ‘This isn’t working, is it?’. There must be some who looked at their words on the paper and thought, ‘I know I could do this, but the world won’t miss me if I don’t, I’m going to finish knitting that silk, lace scarf instead.’

There must be someone out there for whom not writing was an active decision. And their’s would be an interesting book.

*still my favourite George W joke

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6 Responses to “On not”

  1. SocialAnswers July 6, 2010 at 12:21 pm #

    I have always felt that pen and paper were my resort, my hiding place, in fact the only place where I could really be me, without being perceived as too emotional, too romantic and/or too out of this world. So as you are sharing these thoughts on here, please rest assured that I, myself, have been wondering of the special rapport between people and their words, the meaning they assign to it and the longevity of their verbal notions.

  2. The Coffee Lady July 6, 2010 at 11:12 pm #

    I thought along those lines about my poetry about 15 years ago. But I never did make a scarf.

  3. franzy July 7, 2010 at 5:27 am #

    Mele and I put ‘Writer’ on our marriage and son’s birth certificates and we tear that writing time out of the day like entrails out of a live pig. It gets messy and it doesn’t always work.
    But we do SO enjoy it.

    On another note, a PhD consultant person at uni described to me once the concept of ‘The Golden Hour’. It must be an hour of sitting and writing. Family are not to open the door. Nothing is so important that it can’t wait.
    There are to be no opening ceremonies; no checking of email, no lining up the pencils, no getting the papers in order, no re-reading the last bit.
    Only keys tapping.
    One hour.

    It worked for me.
    Almost as well as working in public at a coffee shop where, if you don’t obviously have a Word document open with text on the page, then everyone can see and will assume that you’re a phkwyt.

  4. SQ July 7, 2010 at 2:24 pm #

    I think I might know that phd consultant person.

  5. Kate July 8, 2010 at 4:57 am #

    That person might be me. One of them, anyway. I used to write quite nice vignettes, but I suck at plots. I could have gotten better. But it was hard, and I was studying, and then I found other things i liked to do (like knit lace scarves). Every now and then I’d feel sad about it… and then I found blogging. And now I write quite nice vignettes (sometimes) about my lace scarves.

    I thought about this the other day, and realised that no, I don’t have a novel in me. I just don’t, despite what my 8 year old self thought. Maybe I used to and it got squeezed out by other things. I might have a book of short stories in me, though. Maybe, one day.

  6. Mindy July 10, 2010 at 5:21 am #

    I did try a couple of times to get the stories in my head onto paper, but they just seemed to deflate and it was too much work to get them back again. So I made a conscious decision to enjoy other people’s writing instead. Maybe one day I will go back to it. I never got serious enough to go to a workshop or anything.

    I thought I might enjoy being a slushpile reader until I joined a slushpile reading group online and realised why many of these manuscripts are in the slush pile.

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