There is a romanticised idea of what writing a book is like; of what being a writer is. Early mornings basked by bitter air and fresh sunlight, your hands moving fast between pencilling an idea down & moving across the keyboard, ideas falling out gracefully. Half-empty mugs of tea, week getaways in isolated places to focus. Listening only to the birdsong.
But it’s disjointed. Messy. Cloaked in self-doubt and often dislike towards your own writing, your own ideas. It’s going in circles, days worth of shit writing that you know you will discard at the end, but going ahead with it because you need some sort of idea to flow. It’s a loneliness, sometimes only living within your head to get the idea into paper. Not knowing whether this story will actually get shared with the world, or move aside with your other tattered manuscripts.
It’s when you’re on the brink of sleep and the perfect prose floats through your head; the inner battle of deciding to write it down or convincing yourself you will remember it in the morning. You never remember it in the morning.
Outsiders’ perspectives that get thrown at you, oh what a blissful life being a writer must be, all the way to I could write a book if I sat down and focused. You are not worth celebrating until you have the words in other peoples’ hands; until your story is praised by other people. Otherwise, what are you doing? Are you wasting your life for only a dream?
Not shown is how terribly hard it is, the discipline, the tearful nights, the awful sleeping patterns, the ideas coming at the most inopportune times. The hard work, the redrafts, the chapters completely disregarded. The utter determination it is to finish, to share, to be rejected (over and over); all it takes is wafting through the many no’s, to the one yes. Because all you need is one yes. It doesn’t end when it’s written, because then you wait until it lands in others’ hands, to hear the criticism and the praise, to know that your story is no longer just your own.
Most of all it is being compelled to tell a story; whether that’s folklore or your very own, a magic world or retelling the lives of others. That there is a pull toward the pen and the paper — with simply nothing else to do but write what is floating around inside your head. The words you write have a purpose. Your story is meant to be read.