I left the shop cheered at having made an authentic connection, however banal, accompanied by that slight tinge of defensiveness I recognise from when I tell someone I’m a writer and they wonder why they haven’t seen my books in Waterstones’ window display. The perceived requirement to be at the top of my game before I dare pick up my bat/spade/pen comes from both inside and out. Didn’t I tell you writing was like gardening?
white, and black currants sometimes can feel like more trouble than it’s worth, but it’s deeply satisfying to reap the rewards of all that backbreaking planting and weeding and eat the food I’ve grown myself.
Over on The Creative Penn, it’s time for a mid-year writing review. It’s good to be encouraged to take stock and I’m gratified to find I’m not the only one nerdy enough – or when someone else does it, sensible enough – to transfer that real-work objective-setting stuff into my writing. As with the garden, I can sometimes be too focused on the jobs undone to recognise what I’ve got. The seeds that didn’t germinate are like my stories that didn’t get written. The tedium of harvesting the soft fruit is like the sometimes Sisyphean task of sending them out into the world, but, if I don’t make the effort, my words, like the berries, will rot on the stem. Looking back at where I was six months ago can help remind me how much I’ve achieved.
Yet we need to avoid being overzealous with our goals, remembering
that, like the weather, the outcomes of our writing are often beyond our
control. Aside from the whims of editors, at times even internal factors
like motivation and enthusiasm will elude us. So we’ll always feel like failures if we let our drive for improvement obscure what we already have. And even achievable goals require goalposts and one sure thing about metaphorical goalposts is they keep on moving and those writerly satisfactions of external recognition in whatever form will leave us craving a bigger dose.
I make no apologies for signing off with the much-quoted Kipling's If. Sometimes words become clichés because they make such good sense.
If you can dream -- and not make dreams your master;
If you can think -- and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same
How about you?