It’s been a strange week. Work has been incredibly busy, I’ve been ill and then the hubby was ill and I was hit hard by the publishing world.
The publishing world is a harsh one. One day you can have a high, maybe an agent or publishers requests your full manuscript, or your short story or article gets accepted. Another day you have a low, full of rejections and constructive feedback with hard truths. Most days are somewhere in-between and so are hardly noticeable but this last week has been a low. I won’t go into why.
It got me to thinking why we write. What makes a writer?
In Sister Act 2, Sister Mary Clarence tells Rita, ‘”Don’t ask me about being a writer. If when you wake up in the morning, you can think of nothing but writing then you’re a writer.”
A born writer has to write. I once went about a month or two without writing (when I first started university) and pretty soon I was silently narrating my life to myself. Then one day I snapped. I was sat in a lecture when my brain switched off from reality, my stomach began churning and I had to start writing right then and there in order to calm my body down.
However, being a writer does not mean that you should strive to be published. Many people, including me, dream of it but it is not a necessity.
If you are part of the online writing world then you must have noticed the pressure the publishing industry puts all writers under. To constantly improve, to write saleable words, to always strive to be better.
The majority of the writing world is friendly and helpful but we are also human and so every single one of us will have, at some time, written a post on a forum, or spoken in a conversation with a pretentious tone. We want to help each other, but each of us also wants to be the best.
This underlying competition to be the better writer can be very damaging. This week I was reminded that it is ok to not be a part of that community. A writer is not a failure because they decide, either permanently or temporarily, that they no longer wish to be published (if they wanted to be published at all). A writer is also not a failure if they choose to stop writing (although I would worry for their sanity).
The universe is a harsh place and if a writer should find it difficult to survive in such a competitive and sometimes negative world, then they should be allowed to drop back and go back to basics without the tag of failure hanging over their heads. I think it is very easy to get so involved in the world of writing and publishing that the basics and bliss of writing is forgotten.
The first rule of writing is to write for yourself. First you write for yourself, then you write for money. Money, however, is nothing compared to the joy of writing something you feel passionate about that you, and you alone, can reread over and over.
And now, a piece of micro fiction that cultivated and grew during a September evening walk…
“Oh look! It’s opposite dog.”
“Wow! An opposite dog. Does it meow instead of woof?”
“It is not loyal?”
“It’s very loyal.”
“Does it not enjoy the company of humans?”
“Oh no, it loves its family.”
“Not a dog who doesn’t like walks?”
“It loves going for walks.”
“Could it be, is it a vegetarian?”
“Of course not!”
“Does it stand when told to sit?”
“No, it’s very obedient.”
“It has white fur, was it born with black?”
“No, it was a very white, fluffy puppy.”
“Then what on earth makes it an opposite dog?”
“It lives opposite me.”