I’ve been down this past few months. I haven’t felt like writing much. It’s been a struggle. I’ve started several blogs, stories, sentences and can’t get it going. I’ve even been finding it difficult to write formal letters demanding money from debtors (my second favourite pastime). I’ve begun to doubt if I should be a writer at all. My fellow writers on the Lancashire and Cumbria Wrimo Facebook page were as supportive as ever but it didn’t help. They were all managing to carry on with their WIP and I really didn’t want to write anything. Then I stumbled onto the Insecure Writers Support Group (IWSG) and found writers in the same boat as me, paddling around in a sea of doubt in a tub made of rice paper and a broken pencil for an oar. Suddenly things didn’t seem so bad, they never do when find out you are not alone. So I threw away the broken pencil, let the paper disintegrate and float away and listened (or read) to the blogs of writers who had navigated these waters before. I just let it go, the doubts, the fears, the first line of the first chapter which was continuously eluding me. I picked up a book and did some reading instead.
The book in question was Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen. It was quite good. If I was doing a book review I would probably have more to say but I’m not. I was reading for sheer pleasure and it was an enjoyable read, not too long, with well written characters. I will buy the next books in the trilogy. Afterwards I thought about reading Oscar Wilde’s ‘Picture of Dorian Grey’, it has been waiting patiently for eight months, or maybe some recommended reading material suggested by creative writing workshops and study groups. Reading extensively helps improve ones own writing. What I picked up was one of my mothers Mills and Boon Regency Romance. I read three (and enjoyed them) before I realised what I was doing.
I’m not criticising Mills and Boon or romance novels, well actually I am. The plotlines are unbelievably ridiculous, the characters impossible good-looking and perfectly flawed. Who isn’t going to fall for a 6 ft 3, broad-shouldered, brooding male with a dark secret in his past and all the full bosomed females are feisty, intelligent and forever swooning into the arms of aforesaid dark, brooding male. Its simple and pure escapism, doesn’t take much brain power, you just go along for the ride. I mean honestly, I’ve known 6 ft tall good-looking men, broad-shoulder with a dark not so secret past, and I wouldn’t say I’m lacking in the bosom department, I’m always ready for a fight and I’m reasonably intelligent (pretty sure I passed my exams) but I’ve never felt the least compulsion to swoon away into any ones arms. What if they didn’t catch me? Being 6ft 1 in heels, full bosomed and a little bit full in other places, if I fell and no one caught me, I’d go with a bang.
Whatever the faults of romance novels in general, they did the trick. I was compelled with a burning desire to write. If someone can write and publish the mindless mush I’ve just read, I’m sure I could do the same. After all I’m feisty, full bosomed and intelligent (swooning not included). Unfortunately writing romance is harder than I thought, especially for someone as cynical about romance as I am. Regardless of my romantic inadequacies and lack of ability to swoon, the thought of writing is there. I picked up some of my unfinished works only to discard them after ineffectually trying to pick up where I left off. I sat staring at a blank screen for week. The Lancashire and Cumbria Wrimos are writing in full swing, ideas are flapping around their computer screens, stories are being finished and passed around for critiques and praise and publication. I’m jealous and don’t want to talk to anyone. Staring at a blank screen I’m consumed by guilt by my unwanted jealousy. Good things don’t come from bad thoughts. I think I congratulated everyone who’d achieved what they had set out to do, crawled back to the IWSG and found the boat tied to the Writers Block. Once inside I carved my excuses of why I wasn’t writing into the Writers Block next to all the other excuses of writers who had come before me. My excuse, the sock drawer needed organising. Pitiful.
On reflection I’d come through the worst part, crippling self-doubt and depression, losing the will to write for a writer must be akin to losing the will to live. Hopefully I’m now overcoming Writers Block as well. I’ve written this blog. I thought about a writing exercise in a course I once started (never finished, story of my life). It was simple, just write about why you want to be a writer. And I know the answer to this one. I want to write because I enjoy writing no matter what, I have a story I want to tell, I feel free when I write, blah blah blah. Honestly, and let’s be honest and have the ugly truth, I want to published! By a publisher! And not just an e-book on Amazon. I want to see my name in the front window of Waterstones! Well that’s not going to happen staring at a blank screen is it! (I pull my bosom up to full height, throw the socks out of their drawer and attack the keyboard)