Sunday 25 June 2017

Inspiration or Perspiration? A Writer's Life.

So here we are, almost the end of June and I am reassured that my Winter fuel payment will still be paid. For now. Last Winter, I probably spent it at least 20 time over. The price of oil is supposed to be lower than at any time over the past few years, yet I was spending every penny I earned on keeping warm enough to earn the money to spend on keeping warm. Paradoxical world.

As writers, we are often asked (well, I am) how the creative process of writing a book happens. What I think people desperately want to hear is the apocryphal Enid Blyton response on the lines of: 'I just wander into my little writing place, and suddenly, all sorts of lovely characters and plots tiptoe through the mental bluebells straight into my mind fully formed, and all I have to do is write them down and hey presto! a book appears.' In other words, writing is easy and you, interested interlocutor, could easily do it too.

Sorry, it doesn't work like that. At least not for this little duck. In another of these paradoxes, I find that creativity only occurs when disciplinary structures are applied. Rigorously. In other words, I have to make myself sit at the keyboard, regularly, and write. I can fantasis
e about the book all I want, imagine the amazing prose that I will write when I get round to it, but until my rear end and the chair are brought into contact, and remain in contact for long periods of time, nothing creative happens.

Sure, there are moments, and flashes of inspiration, when one stares at the screen, and wonders whether the Writing Fairy has just made a house call, but on the whole, these episodes only tend to emerge out of a period of just slogging away at the writing process. And I should know, having just edited 73 thousand words of the next Victorian novel, which I wrote purely by dint of making myself sit down at the eMac every day and write it.

An article in the Guardian some time ago lifted the lid on how to be a successful author. No secret, sadly. A lot of labour and a bit of luck. Heavy on the former. As Wm Blake remarked: Without contraries is no progression. Ain't that the truth!


  1. That "At least not for this little duck" is by far the least animal that comes to mind thinking about Mrs Hedges. Something feline but from the bigger species, tiger, leopard but certainly not a duck

  2. I agree - I, too, have to sit at the laptop and get on with it. But there are a few, precious, flashes when I have creative ideas when I'm away from the desk. Sadly most seem to happen in the shower, and I have yet to find a waterproof notebook and pen!

    1. Ha! The famous'notebook, in which I write all my nightly ideas..which turn out to be rubbish in the cold light of day!

  3. I have yet to find a way to write notes that I can actually read, and once read, understand!


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