There are some days when being a writer sucks. All we can think about is writing. We catch ourselves constructing sentences while we’re cleaning or exercising or watching television. Or when we’re trying to sleep. Especially when we’re trying to sleep.
We sit at our desks at work all day just wishing that we could be at home because the desire to write something is so strong our hearts might burst with the wanting. Then we get home and the house is messy, we have a family that need to be fed, we haven’t been to the gym for a week. We start to feel guilty so we tell ourselves we’ll just do a few jobs first and then we’ll write later.
Or, as soon as we have the free time to write the desire disappears. It is replaced with The Fear.
The Fear comes to all writers. It tells us that we have no talent, that we’ll never make it as a writer, that no one will ever want to read our work. We shrink away from the computer or the notebook. Maybe we should wait until we feel inspired before we try to write anything more…
It’s 1.30 in the morning and we’re lying in bed wide awake, perfectly formed text flowing through our minds like quicksilver. We don’t have writer’s block any more, we know how to fix that scene that doesn’t quite work, we’ve conquered the awkward line that’s been troubling us for days. We waver; we know we shouldn’t get up to write because we have to be up for work in five hours and the exhaustion will kill us. But the words are there. They are perfect. We give in and decide to stay in bed. We’ll remember them tomorrow.
We still don’t sleep and in the morning the words have scattered. We clutch at the fragments but they just aren’t as good.
We read as many books as we can; all the while wishing that one day we will hold an actual copy of our book in our hands. We read shitty novels and get annoyed because we know our book is better. Seriously, who publishes this crap? We get annoyed that the latest thing has sold five gazillion copies even though the author hasn’t actually mastered the fine art of using an apostrophe.
We talk breathlessly about our writing at work or with friends, until someone asks if they can read what we’ve written. We stutter a little. We want them to read it. We want them to think it’s the best thing since White Teeth/Fight Club/To Kill a Mockingbird/Twilight (delete as appropriate). We worry they won’t like it. Eventually we decide to share our work with them, to expose our very souls to the light. We wait with baited breath for the verdict, not daring to ask for an opinion. A couple of days pass. Then a week goes by and the bastard still hasn’t mentioned it. Ten days…TEN DAYS! Do they not read? Who is this fucking heartless arsehole that asks to read our work then never mentions it again? Do they not have a soul? When we finally pluck up the courage to mention it, they say: “Oh I haven’t had chance to look at it yet.” What? WHAT?!
We tell ourselves that their opinion doesn’t matter but in secret we gather the shattered remnants of our confidence together and try to put pen to paper again. We don’t want to think that it was so bad they read two pages and threw it down in disgust. Oh god, what if they’re one of those people who only read in the bathroom? What if our book is left to shrivel down the side of their toilet for all eternity? What if we visit them a year from now and IT’S STILL THERE LAUGHING AT US?
We take a breath.
We sit down to do a bit of writing. We go on Twitter.