Moving on swiftly from the procrastination theme of yesterday’s post, I have a few more words of encouragement for writers – with the odd smidgen of advice thrown in – from a humble writer who really hasn’t written much (though is desperately trying to).
Brewing something worthy of You
Writing is the percolation of an inordinate amount of procrastination (think of procrastination as the raw ground coffee – you know, your favourite one that will make you the perfect cup – the basis for your imagination in its pure, unbrewed form). To this is added a pinch of each of inspiration, despair and guilt (this is the water part, feel free to add in whatever quantities tickle your fancy). To this seemingly odd mixture of earthy, aromatic bitterness is added heat. This is the heat produced by the anger and hard work that procrastination can often lead to. We all know that the particular flame from all that anger and hard work is magical, mystical and even brews the perfect coffee. But wait… the coffee is not perfected yet. Choices are to be made, will it be a straight black coffee, or the flourish of a cappuccino the hint of desire from a macchiato, the warmth of a latté or the raw sexuality of a double espresso? This is where your editor comes in. They will make that coffee perfect to serve and those “reading” your coffee will never know the work that has gone into making your own masterpiece.
“Easier said than done,” I hear some of you mutter. “What does he know,” say the voices in my head, “for he isn’t even published yet.” Don’t listen to these voices, wherever they are from (mine are mostly in my head and I am my own worst enemy) and for Pete’s sake don’t worry about the “are you a published author” question. Just write and do what you want to do, not what you are meant to do and find your own space.
To be irked is human, to write is divine
I get asked the “are you a published author” question more often than I admit and far more often than I like, even from people I don’t know, and it irks me.
Irks me is too mild. It angers me beyond the boiling pot phase and moves me into the muttering-unutterable-curses-under-my-breath-at-all-and-sundry phase. My reply is always the same two words which make me feel like I am taking my own ego to the abbatoir to be butchered by strangers – “No, but…” It’s this “no, but” that kills my self-esteem and makes me cringe and want to dig that hole and disappear into it forthwith.
But then, I calm down and write something and feel better, actually I sit and stew and feel worse and then, once I have stewed the anger out, I decide to write and things seem to fall into place. The point I am alluding to is other peoples’ opinions, call it society, peers, friends, family, whoever’s need for the individual to excel and stand out and be proud of their achievement – in this case judged on whether you are good enough to be “published.” Now to use one of my favourite Latin words that are often sprinkled liberally, the caveat to this is that some do it with the best of intentions and others do it from spite, jealousy and some from unfettered schadenfreude so take the loved one’s opinions with a liberal barrow load of salt and destine the others to the infernal scrapheap of ignoramuses and envious so and sos. The lesson is that without these opinions, good and bad, I would never get anything done so they do have a part in the play that is my writing.
Your coffee your rules
However, the hardest part is to come to terms with opinions and criticism. For this, sadly, I have no magic potion of advice or formula that works “out of the can” except: do your own thing at your own pace. For some it is frantic composition, for others whimsical (and I think I fall into latter category). It’s your life just as it is your book or poem or essay or whatever. First you write for you, then for others to read and enjoy (or not). If they can glean pleasure from your sweat then they are the winners. If they cant – then you have learnt a lesson. As I said, it’s your life, your writing and your rules. Don’t fit it to rules you think need to be conformed to, but to your own, measured ones that contain your dreams, desires, tears, and most of all your imagination. Yours.
So the moral of this tale is:
Make your coffee the way you like it, not how others expect you to like it. (And that goes for your writing too).