29th May 2020
I always cringe watching instructors encourage people to write: "Come on, you know you have a story somewhere in there. Dig deep. Pull it out. Fill the page." I want to scream "No! Leave it in. If there is anything in there worth coming out, it will do so on its own." Likewise, I have no tolerance for the romance of writer's block. If you have something to say, then say it, and if not, find something that inspires you more.
Writers' block! Give me a break.
This lockdown business in the face of a global pandemic, has you staring at your reflection. Not the one in the mirror, which these days is doing me no favours. I mean, the one you have to look inward for. The one that has you in tangles in the middle of the night, wondering if all the years of type and sweat have been worth it. Seven people bought my book this week - not bad for a book that was published six years ago (by Simon and Schuster, I have to add, because the literati look down their bespectacled noses at any book that doesn't have a "name" on its spine.) Seven books, drip drip drip. Six years of drip, and I still haven't paid off the damn advance. That's because publishers operate according to the law of diminishing returns, and the joke is on the author, because they keep splicing the money you owe down to the nearest farthing. Up the hill we go, and up the hill we go.
If I had a penny for everyone who said to me, "I know I have this book in me, but I just don't seem to be able to find the time," I would have paid off the damn advance by now.
A wise woman, perhaps Eudora Welty, once said, "If you can do anything else other than writing, do it."
J.K. Rowling probably doesn't feel this way, and I am sure I wouldn't either if I had made enough money to buy a small country. If I had, I wouldn't, like JK Rowling, be lodging in my homeland of Scotland, I would buy it. Those capitalists in London have their price - it's the nature of capitalism.
But my drip drip isn't going to amount to any kind of real estate, whether countries or a wee cottage in the old country. The chief difference between me now and me in my twenties when I was launching myself into the writing world, is that back then I thought writing was the answer, and now it's just a very large question.