Just a thought – about being a writer
I have always dreamed of being a writer. From about age seven or eight I wanted to be a writer. Over the years I have achieved a significant body of work, some of it published, much of it languishing in books, folders or on the hard drive of my computer.
At an early age I also realised – I’m not sure how – that writing was not a terribly lucrative career choice unless one was very talented or knew the right people. I didn’t fit into either category, and so I was sidetracked for 35 years in a classroom. While I achieved a great deal as a teacher, there was always the deep seated desire to do more writing than just setting aside an hour or two here and there, and a few days in the holidays. At times it was frustrating, because teaching is such an exhausting vocation it left little energy for the creative demands of writing. I still do not know how I managed to average over a hour of writing per day over the last decade of my teaching career. Discipline I guess, mixed with a dollop of passion.
A huge chasm
Now that I’ve retired I can write more or less full time. I have now discovered an interesting fact about being a writer. There is a huge chasm between the dream (call it a fantasy if you wish) of being a writer and the reality of being a writer. Elizabeth George, author of the Inspector Lynley series, says that “Lots of people want to have written: they don’t want to write. In other words, they want to see their name on the front cover of a book with their grinning picture on the back.” They are not prepared to give what it takes to finish a novel, for example. They are in love with the “idea” of being a writer. They want the kudos without the hard work that goes with achieving that recognition.
An image problem
I guess I still have an image problem. I think I might still harbour an idealised image of what a writer’s life is like. Day by day, week after week and as each month goes by I am beginning to have that image modified, clarified. Being a writer is hard work. The head aches, the neck is stiff, the backside gets numb and sometimes the words will just not come. All in a day’s work. And yes – it is hard work. My idealised version is far from the reality I am now experiencing.
Despite the dawning of reality I am still going to write. To me, it is like breathing. It is just something I have to do to stay alive.