My Writing Life | Or, How Writing Doesn’t Really Fit Into My Life


Chapter 1 | Introduction

We all have a book in us – that’s the cliché I’ve chosen to open with.  I think I have a few (books, not clichés, although I have plenty of those as well).  They seem to enjoy prancing around my brain, flashing a sultry sentence or exposing their synopsis with a coquettish giggle before retreating to unreachable parts of my memory.  Usually, they reveal themselves when a pen and paper are inappropriate: during a run; in the shower; on a long drive.

“Don’t worry,” I tell myself, “you’ll definitely remember this idea.”  I rarely do.  Not when it’s a good one.

Some ideas don’t escape.  I almost finished a short story once.  It needs completely rewriting, but the idea is there and it’s quite good.  My first novel is also almost complete, while another has been roughly outlined in a notebook before it was able to scuttle off to join other important memories, like the places I put things, so I definitely wouldn’t forget them, and the things people have told me when I absolutely was listening but somehow don’t remember ever being told.  One day I’m going to find that part of my brain and then I’ll prove that I do pay attention, as well as rediscovering millions of lost items and hundreds of award-winning story ideas.  My almost finished novel has taken almost five years to write, but I reckon I’ve only got another two, maybe three years until it’s ready for someone else to read.  With little more than a couple more years’ editing and rewriting, I’ll have it done within a decade.  So long as I don’t find too many distractions to fuel my natural tendency for procrastination.

It’s tough though, balancing full-time work, a family and writing a book.  When I pitched the idea of this column to my wife she scoffed “what, you’re going to write about how inconvenient your family are?”  I promised not to come across that way – and I meant it, however else it might occasionally sound.  My intention here is to recall the writing process in small, monthly nuggets; reveal how I’ve failed to balance an efficient writing schedule with a full-time job; and how writing doesn’t necessarily fit around my, not at all inconvenient, family.  I remember a comment someone once made in an online writing group I used to follow (instead of doing any actual writing) – ‘if you’re really committed to writing’, they said arrogantly, ‘you’d make it the most important thing in your life’.  They clearly didn’t have children – when you have children you don’t get to prioritise anything other than children.  Children are born experts at being prioritised.  That’s why I’m justified in taking ten years to write a kid’s book.

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