He who is unwilling to forge his own path must suffer having to follow the paths that others have, or the ones imposed upon him.
That is probably as deep as I’m going to manage for a very long while, and it has a little history. I’ll get to that in a moment.
When I first started this blog, I didn’t really have a plan. I just felt the time was right to get back into blogging, sharing my thoughts and feelings on whatever I felt like. I also thought that writing regularly would grease the gears for my literary work. That hasn’t happened so far, but what has happened is that I’ve shared some of my deepest, darkest thoughts on this blog, and the catharsis has been pretty damn good. Trouble is, after doing that for so long, I have little left to purge, and what I do have, I’m starting to lose my nerve on sharing. Probably temporary, but I’m becoming increasingly aware that my family do in fact read this blog, and that’s caused me to hold back on some things.
An example: I wrote a post last Monday about having relatives over. There was a bit I left out, because I didn’t feel I could post it at the time (because I had my nephew looking over my shoulder as I was typing it out), but if you want to have a look at the post again, I’ve added it now. Basically, I had some friends over, and yeah, we did stay too late. My relatives came back from a dinner somewhere, and noticed my friends. As soon as my friends left, I had to suffer the ridiculous spectacle of being lectured on the friends I keep (my friends, by the way, are practising Muslims, the kind of friends I need more of, not less), being told that they were al-Qaeda (when they are furthest from such terrorists), and how they might harm my family, and on and on. I had to walk out of the room a few times, although my uncle did keep me from leaving at one point. They don’t even know my friends, they probably don’t want to, but they certainly don’t want me bringing them home. And I had to listen to this.
But I didn’t write about any of that, because I knew I was going to be criticised for that by my family, who have already told me not to write about certain things on my blog. And I’m only now realising how absurd it is for me to worry about that. Either I write the truth as I see it, and haters be damned, or I shut this blog down.
I’ve digressed a little bit, but it felt good to get that out. Anyway, the point is, after exhausting most of my inner demons (but not quite getting round to, you know, slaying them), I found I didn’t have much to say. I have done a few social commentary pieces, but I’m not sure they’re my best writing on here, but I’ll let you judge. I doubt anyone has noticed or cared, but that’s the reason I haven’t done a post a day as I’ve aimed to do. But I also haven’t done much writing, which I had expected this blog to kickstart.
Which now brings me to the quote I started with. That’s mine, by the way, but I’m sure others have expressed the idea better.
I haven’t read my writer friend’s recent work, but I can tell you that he is a writer. He’s written several books already, and is getting them ready to publish. He’s prolific, and he works very hard. None of what I’ve just described could actually be applied to me. He’s tried his hardest to get me back into writing again, but I’ve resisted. I have been writing of course – you’re reading this blog, after all – but nothing literary. It’s true that I’ve been lazy at times, and I need to knuckle down, but it’s also true that my writer friend and I see writing a little differently. Not radically differently – just enough to not entirely agree on it.
Writing fiction is a business, which is something that we both agree on. Where we diverge is on the act of writing itself. He seems to believe that all that matters is being prolific and getting your work out there. There’s nothing wrong with that, or to phrase it more precisely, that’s not something I’m prepared to criticise. We all have bills to pay at the end of the day – unless, of course, you happen to be living on a mountain somewhere (in which case you wouldn’t even be reading this). For me, however, the work itself has to be worthwhile. It isn’t just business for me; I have to be able to stand by the quality of my work, even if that means a redraft, or even starting over. If a publisher forced me to hand over a manuscript I wasn’t totally ready to stand by, the police would have to be called – if I left anyone alive to make that call.
Of course, the problem with all of this is that, unlike my prolific friend, I haven’t written any fiction for two years. One poem, which is on this blog, and that’s pretty much it. Stephen King, I most definitely am not. So because I haven’t taken the initiative to do it myself (which I’m to blame for), I’m having to endure my friend lending me books which he expects me to read (which I should be doing independently anyway). I may have talked about this previously.
I finished a manuscript at the end of 2014, and it was a wreck. I should’ve really stuck to the plan on it, but there you go. Of course, my writer friend tried to take credit for it because he kept prodding me to finish it, and only recently has he given me the respect I deserved for completing it, which just isn’t good enough. It’s probably another reason I’ve been reluctant to write: I feel sometimes like it’s coming more from him than me. But anyway, I’m just venting.
The point is, he offered to take the manuscript off my hands and work on it, but I turned him down, because I wasn’t happy with what I’d written. He’d probably say I was being precious about it, and maybe I am a bit. But that’s just how it is for me. I’m going to start that project afresh (in addition to another project I’m working on), because that’s how it has to be. When I publish something, I need it to be the very best version of that story I can produce. ‘That’s good enough, it’ll do’ is not an option for me.
Is that profitable? Probably not. Is it time-consuming? Definitely. Is it worth it for me? Absolutely. The catch: I actually have to write something.
So, as things stand, I have three choices: do nothing, which is essentially what I’ve been doing; do what my friend tells me, which would deprive me of my independence as a writer; or I actually pull my finger out of my ear and do this myself. Option 1 hasn’t worked, and option 2 is not my way, so I guess I am going to sort it out myself. It’s about time anyway, and it’s not like I’ve got anything else holding me back anymore.
So while I’m definitely going to be continuing with this blog, I’m also going to be working on my writing. I think the gears are greased enough. I won’t write many updates, except for significant milestones, but hopefully, you’ll be reading at least one of my efforts later this year.
Speak to you soon. Take care.