the course of my reading and writing life (over 50 years) I’ve read authors
I’ve been insanely jealous of because I admire their execution of the craft. It
is not until now that I find myself reading a writer I connect with on a deeper
level. Before Christmas I read Parable
of the Sower by Octavia Butler and felt, gosh I really get where this
writer is coming from. So I did what I always do when a writer’s work speaks to
me – I looked for more of her work. Here in the UK it’s difficult to get copies
of her books from libraries. The librarian told me people borrow them never to return them. I fully understand why. I want to OWN every single book she’s ever
this writer so much that I’ve voluntarily dipped into her short stories and
essays; something I haven’t done since ‘forced’ into it by a required reading
list during my days at university. I regularly ignore forewords and notes from authors but found myself wanting to know every detail of this writer’s
experience. So much of what she writes resonates, starting with the fact that she
hates writing short stories, moving on to the valuable self-knowledge that she
is more of a novel writer than anything else.
when I read or hear other writers’ experiences of writing I find myself out in
the void as I feel so differently about the experience. I never suffer from
writer’s block. I don’t struggle to write regularly.* I don’t panic when something is not good. I love getting feedback
from readers and writing groups. For years I never admitted to any of this
because I felt it would be disloyal to other writers to do so. Now I’m
beginning to understand there are other writers like myself out there. So I’m
beginning to feel less disloyal and simply accepting this as MY process. As with
everything else in life, it’s crucial to remember, us writers are as different
as individual genetic codes.
Butler’s essay Furor Scribendi (the rage of writing) completely captivated me.
It’s a perfect summing up of how I used to feel about my writing. I simply
could not stop. I’m sure the more discerning of you have spotted the past tense.
This is because towards the end of last year I felt as though I’d lost my
writing mojo. Not the ideas. They’re still plentiful. But the fire. It seemed, at
times, barely a spark. I’m not sure why this happened but am very glad it appears to have passed because I can’t imagine a life without writing. The embers are glowing more brightly each day. I’m in
the process of rebuilding my writing muscle memory and more importantly, my stamina.
put huge amounts of pressure on ourselves, more so than others do in fact. So here’s
a bit of advice which works for writers as well as the ordinary humans out
there. If things are a bit pear shaped for you at present, cut yourself some
slack. I’m not saying ‘make excuses’. Get on with the business of being but be
good to yourself. Do the things that fulfill you in life. Spend time with the
people you love and value and who love and value you in return. That has been
the greatest lesson I’ve learnt to date.
exception to this has been a bad bout of migraines and a period of time when I
had the flu.