Some thoughts on my writing efforts. Inspired by a couple things really. First, I did a little bit of writing last night along with re-reading some unfinished stories and ideas that I had lying around.
(Actually the ‘writing’ I did was purely mechanical. I had written a story that had gotten feedback that the point of view was wrong and I was implementing the first part of a fix which was to change the pov to first person. So I was changing “You” to “I” etc.)
Second I spent about an hour and a half reading Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’ this morning. If you’ve read it you’ll know that it’s in two parts – an autobiography part and the part on writing. Impatient as I am I skipped the second part. Which kind of relates to what I want to talk about.
Ok, let’s get serious for a second. Why do I want to write? Do I have any talent? Do I have the necessary work ethic? The problem with reading a book like On Writing is that I immediately score myself against the things he says you should have/do/be and usually I don’t fare well and end up feeling like I should just give up. See I’m lazy and my motivation for writing seems to be that I want people to say ‘hey that’s good’. King’s golden rule is read a lot, write a lot. By a lot he means 4-6 hours of reading a day and 1,000 words a day writing (however long that takes).
Now I have more free time than I’ve ever had in my life but 6 hours a day is hard to come by without giving up stuff. I talk to M. maybe 2 hours a day. A lot of my free time is in the evening and I’m tired from work. I just checked and my longest, unfinished, story is 2,700 words, which is actually a lot longer than I thought, but it didn’t come in one session.
So what I’m saying is that to make anything like the time King suggests would be an effort and I’m lazy. That’s problem 1.
Problem 2 is the motivation thing. King suggests that if the above schedule seems a lot it may be because you don’t really have the passion and talent for it. He suggests that once you get into it, it should be fun, you should love doing it whether or not anyone else reads it. Hmm. Well the news is not entirely bad here. The reading I did last night of my old stuff did stir something and I did enjoy what I’d written. I’d enjoyed the invention of it, the creativity.
King also talks about a defining moment for a writer when you read something bad that’s published and think ‘I could do better’. I have had that moment. It was ‘My Legendary Girlfriend’ by Mike Gayle. Now I must add quickly that this was not badly written but it was about things that I felt I could write about. A lot of times I would feel like I didn’t have enough experience of life to write anything worth reading. But My Legendary Girlfriend is about a 20-something guy living alone in his first flat with his first proper job. It takes place over a single weekend and it veers from mundane details of living in a flat to observations on pop culture and – hence the title – romance. Well those were all things I felt I could write about. It was a definite ‘I could do this’ moment.
Anyway, I’m choosing to feel hopeful. I’m deciding that if I try to write regularly and read more that the questions about motivation and talent will sort themselves out as I go.