Thursday, 16 August 2012

The Cliffs of Insanity

 Those of you who've read William Goldman's "The Princess Bride" ( or seen the very excellent film) will understand what I mean by my title. To those of you who haven't, why not? It is  AMAZING! Anyway, the cliffs of insanity are, to be brief, enormously high, almost impossible to scale cliffs and sometimes that's how writing feels to me.
 Not every day of course. Some days are positively glorious.  Some days words flow from my brain to the paper in an effortless stream and I stay up half the night writing chapter after chapter. Some days I feel as if my characters live and breathe, my plot sings and my prose shines. On those days I believe with every fiber of my being that I am a writer and that one day I will be published.
 But then there are days like today. Days when each word I write seems a chore. Days when I stare at the screen with no idea of where to start. Days when I read through months of work and decide it's all rubbish and I've no chance of ever being published. Days when I imagine agents would laugh at my delusions.
 They are not good days. Obviously. They are hard and horrible and enough to make me want to give up entirely. They test my beliefs and my commitment to the core.
 But it's always useful to use some perspective at this point. A bad day writing is still in comparison to most other occupations a wonderful way to spend my time. And let's not forget that in some jobs a bad day could mean something truly awful happens.
 So, with that in mind it seems churlish to complain about the anguish and pain that comes with creation. It is, I suppose, a part of the process and something we must all learn to cope with but it's certainly not something I was prepared for when I began this journey.
 The problem is that when you read a book it's impossible to tell how many months or years of work have gone in to it and now that I know a bit more I am amazed at the time and effort that is necessary. Amazed and terrified it must be said. Can I really do it? Do I have the perseverance to keep going, draft after draft, rejection after rejection? It seems to me that it's that very ability that in some ways counts even more then talent and skill.

 So I can't guarantee that I'll be here five years from now. But I very much hope so, I hope I can keep the faith despite everything. For now though I will carry on climbing my personal cliff and cling to the fact that everything worth having is worth fighting for.

How do you cope with bad days? How do you keep going? Leave a comment and let me know!

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