The writing life can be a strange thing, it has to be said. There are lots of parts to it which jump up and down demanding our attention. I’m sure you know the things I mean - They like present themselves as what the job is really about: writing, getting the editing done, earning money, marketing, building up the brand etc. The thing is that they are the job, in fact any one of these things is a job on its own, and the money thing certainly will do its best to be at the centre of things, especially in the current climate.
The question of ‘What the job actually is,’ is something which has fascinated me since I first picked up the pen. At first I thought it was the writing, surely in order to call yourself a writer you had to turn up to the desk, or go to the special little space in the attic or under the stairs and write. I guess that is a bottom line.
In recent years though I’ve come to understand that there is another layer underneath the foundation of writing, and that is the simple fact of remaining creative. I don’t mean waiting for flashes of inspiration, though there is always gratitude when they come. What I’m trying to talk about is the necessity of remaining creative as a daily fact. The thing which makes it all worth it when you’re on the tenth edit of a piece and it has to be delivered ASAP. Or the pulling yourself up by the bootstraps to start a new project and then to keep coming back to it each day and find the material we need. Or letting go of one book when we have finished it and finding a way to make the next one new and distinct and fresh.
It is down to each of us to find our own way with this, it is something which is part of the constant evolution of the life of a writer. Certain things work for sure, reading enough, a regular writing routine, striking sparks in yourself by engaging with other art forms, and for me at least going for a walk a few times a week. I’m sure you have your own version of this list. It seems to me though, that this is the core of things. Allowing ourselves to find nourishment, and get enough juice in to be able to face the other parts of the job. Sometimes it seems the world at large often would rather we didn’t find these sources, it will bombard us with demands, restraints, news, low denominator politics and economic value systems. The more we don’t get caught by them the louder they will shout in our ears. So we go on, and we find the nourishment sometimes even in the places it’s not supposed to be or maybe we even keep going in opposition to them. Whatever the weather, long may we keep on keeping on.
Photo Credit: Mark Sebastian