I look up at the bookcase above my desk. Between pretty journals and my favourite novels, sit books that thrill me and drive the daydreams cluttered with words, desks, books, quiet alone time, delicious creativity. Daydreams that get their material from Pinterest, Jane Eyre and writing classes. Some of my treasured books are:
- Writing From Start to Finish - Kate Grenville
- Beyond the First Draft - John Casey
- On Writing Well - William Zinsser
- Writing Tools - Roy Peter Clark
- Bird by Bird - Anne Lamott
- The Writing Book - Kate Grenville
- Writers on Writing - James Roberts et all
|Vita Sackville-West had a whole tower of her own to write in (and plan her gardens at Sissinghurst)|
These same books can also fill me with despair and despondency. They mock me and call me out as a wannabe writer. Days when the words just won't flow, are silly and pathetic, they sound forced and amateurish. These books of wisdom and encouragement just serve to highlight my shortcomings.
Who am I kidding anyway? Pffft ... writer indeed!
My mind wanders from the daily goal of 1000 words, to blogs, to news stories, to a new email (not to facebook as I have learnt to turn that off!). Chastising myself, I reread the scene I have just written, the one I have been squeezing out of my brain for the last two hours, that little voice in my head telling me the whole time 'this is crap, whoever said you could write, you write like a six year old, silly baby words and all disjointed.' As I try and ignore this voice, I am reading my words, and I don't recognise them as my own. They sound ok, that bits funny, there is a sentence there that really works.
Encouraged, I go back a few chapters and read some more. It's filled with spelling errors and some terrible grammar, but I like the scene I am reading, I like the character I have created. It gets me excited again.
Taking a break, I read some more of Bird by Bird, and she is writing the exact same thing I was thinking. She thinks her words are crap too, she asks herself who she is kidding being a writer. She tells me that this is all normal and common and part of what being a writer is all about. She tells me to write a 'Shitty First Draft'. To just get the words and the story out of my head. We can fix all the mechanics later.
The voice of negativity pipes up and says 'that's all well and good, but a real writer can WRITE - make beautiful words on the page, they just come to them, their shitty first draft does not look like yours ... they just have to tidy a few things up in the rewrite, not redo the whole bloody thing.'
(I know this is a kids movie, but I love the concept - )
It seems to be a universal thought - you can only call yourself a writer if you have a published and successful book. A real writer can construct perfect sentences and find words that resonate without effort. It's the people who ignore this universal thought who become the writers.
Today I offer that we can all call ourselves a writer - anyone who takes the time to put pen to paper, or finger to key, is bringing their thoughts to life - they are writing!