You Want to Write? Really?

Or Another Thing to Feel Guilty About

Guilt is always a subject that will catch my attention. Especially when it is that special guilt in all its wondrous forms that us ladies enjoy torturing ourselves with. So I read with interest an article on Books for Women about this very thing. The author had an interesting viewpoint as her guilt stemmed from whether or not women have the right to write. Now I am not sure I agree with her on that point, as whether I ought to be writing never occurs to me. Whether I should be writing is the maggot slowly gnawing away in my brain.

I am yet to be published and so far no one is interested in even talking to me about my completed manuscript so surely I am wasting my time? Aren’t I throwing good money after bad, barking up the wrong tree, making an idiot of myself by continuing with this nonsense? If no one is going to publish my book surely I should face reality and step away from the keyboard? Find something more productive to do with my time.

Like most guilty thoughts this is all generated in my head. No one has ever said that to me or made me feel it. On the contrary. My friends and family are both interested and supportive. Many are in awe that I have actually written a book at all never mind getting it published. The physical act of thinking it up, plotting it and the getting 76,000 words down on paper is enough for them to be impressed.

But I do want to get published. That’s the point. Not just to write it, but to have people read it. I don’t want to self publish I want someone to want it. An agent to recognise a spark of talent in there. A publisher to believe it has some commercial potential and is worth investing in. That’s what I want. And that is what makes me feel slightly ashamed that I continue to write without it. After all, isn’t that what books are for, to be read and enjoyed on a grand or even modest scale?

I find myself embarrassed confessing my weekend plans when those involve a day at my laptop working on novel number two. I am really excited about it and can’t wait to see how it is going to shape up as I begin to write. But with the first one still languishing in various agent slush piles I don’t like to admit to friends and family that I am already creating my second.

I am a single mother who works full time. There is already plenty in my life for me to feel bad about. On a daily basis I beat myself up because I can’t take my daughters to school or pick them up, I am not there to make sure their homework is done, at some point during the week there will be kit for a PE lesson or money for a school trip I have forgotten. I always seem to be on the back foot. It is debilitating. It wears me out. So I don’t want to also feel guilty when they are with their dad for the weekend (having a lovely time) and I decide to write. Any grown up woman would of course be cleaning the house, preparing food for the week to make those after work dinners a little easier, sorting out the admin and the filing. That’s what proper mums do, not all this silliness writing another book that no one is ever going to be interested in.

I tell myself that my friends who enjoy photography are not expecting to have their work displayed at the National Gallery, those who play Sunday league football are not believing it is the first step to being signed for a Premiership Club. But I guess the difference between them and me is that I am hoping that my furious writing is the first step. That I will be one of the lucky ones (if they even exist) to be plucked from the slush pile and make it to Waterstones.

So, reading this post back, it is clear that  it is not the writing I am guilty about, it is my expectations.

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4 thoughts on “You Want to Write? Really?

  1. Enjoyed this post immensely, as I am sitting at my cramped writing corner in mine and my partner’s bedroom, with the old wooden kitchen chair I hoisted up the narrow staircase in January, when I became ‘A Writer’, and thinking ‘What am I doing?? Why do I think I have the right to sit here, pretending to be a writer, when I could be doing something useful?’ The demon guilt is my constant companion.

    If you’d like to check out my mindful meanderings, they’re at http://www.writerinresidenceblog.wordpress.com

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  2. Enjoyed reading this. I think it will resonate with a lot of people. I’m still at the “work in progess” stage and the height of my expectation is just getting the whole thing written. That’s half the problem I think, the more you progress, the higher the expectation becomes. Good luck with the new project and keep believing in your own ability to produce what a reader wants.

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