Wednesday, 8 May 2013

The thing itself...

The thing about writing is that it is very easy to evade/avoid. Why do we DO this? Not everyone loves their job. Not everyone leaps out of bed on Monday mornings filled with joy at the prospect of being - for example - a dentist, or a car mechanic.

But broadly speaking, when called upon to do dentistry or fan belt fixing, these people probably get on with it. And yet the stories about writers not getting on with it are legion. Depression, booze and general lack of focus all have a part to play. Children can be an issue - Cyril Connolly wrote about 'the pram in the hall' which was meant to be the enemy of promise, though given the lack of interest men had in caring for babies and small children in the early part of the 20th century, I would have thought this was a bit of a feeble excuse. (Connolly was writing about male promise, in the main, primarily his own.)

My children are extremely large now - taller than me, short-ass Mum. But they still find ways - so many ways - to stop me from working. I lie awake till 3 am waiting for the sound of Daughter's drunken footsteps tottering home. I lie awake after 3 am wondering if Son might do some revision when he finally wakes up at 3pm.

And yet. One of the mistakes we can make as writers is thinking that the stuff we experience isn't Material. We think we are too banal, too boring. But all the stuff that is stopping you from writing is the very same stuff that could be your subject- as the great Raymond Carver found. Day jobs, life jobs, the daily grind - this is the Stuff. All we need is a pen, a pad and five minutes of our fragmented lives to get it down. There is no bathos in our lives, really, because everything that happens is worth writing about.