What’s it all about, this thing we call writing?

Early Dreams

When I first decided to get serious about writing, I had this lovely vision of me sitting on the beach, or in front of a log fire, or huddled into the corner of a country pub, scribbling into a well-worn but totally classy leather-bound notepad. And that would be my life as a writer.

Or so I thought.


The reality is somewhat different. Less peaceful. Nowhere near so self-indulgent.

But for all that, this real writing life is in its own way just as stimulating and exciting as the one I once fantasised about. Just different. Definitely different.

How have you found your writing journey so far? Did it live up to the early dream, or even surpass it?

4 thoughts on “What’s it all about, this thing we call writing?

  1. Writing for a living is not unlike being an actor – you learn to live with rejection. Then, when fortune smiles and work comes your way, it’s frenetic – for awhile at least. I’ve just spent the past 18 years researching and writing a biography about a truly remarkable man simply because I believed so much in what he’d done and I wanted his story to reach a wider audience. It’s great when people tell you how much they enjoy what you’ve done to get that story to them, but very frustrating when others dismiss it out of hand with barely a glance at the cover. I’ve experienced both kinds of book publishing: I was published by a major publishing house 14 years ago and it was a great way into the business, but I earned nothing from it financially – just a meager advance, nothing more. Recently, I’ve published my own work, which is satisfying as I have more control over the process, but there’s a lot of work involved in getting the book ‘out there’. Why do we write? Some are ‘journalists’, others are storytellers; and perhaps some just want to write because they have something to say and so writing is the best medium for them; it’s certainly a compulsion.

  2. Hi, Kath. Great observation. Most days for me are hectic. I’m running around trying to keep my four-year-old from hurting himself or someone else. If I’m not doing that, I’m out doing errands, preparing food, planning for the next day. Often, there are emergencies that spring up out of nowhere: a car needs a new battery, a shelf has fallen off the wall, the four-year-old has fallen down and hurt himself. But at least once a day, there are these magical oases of time, my writing time. Sometimes they ARE on a beach or a at a pub or in front of a toasty fire, but most times they are these small, still moments when the writing flows and, even if it’s terrible, I feel like I’ve accomplished something major. That’s been my journey so far. How about yours?

    1. Hi pauljennynyc. Mine tends to go in fits and starts. I sometimes have dedicated months and months of being brilliant at fitting it all in, prioritising etc, then blips where everything else is just so much more ‘urgent’. That is, until the lack of writing time really gets to me and I just have to squeeze it in again. As soon as I force some proper creative writing time back into my life (not just ‘jobbing’ writing) I feel at one with the world again in a way that I never do when I’m not writing. My idea of heaven is a writing retreat, which sometimes comes disguised as a camping trip with just me and my dogs and nothing to do all day but walk and write.

  3. Hi Geoff, nice to hear from you and so glad to hear you are still scribbling. I agree, writing is all those things: frustrating, poorly paid, rewarding, and compulsive. I think I’d need far too long stretched out on a shrink’s couch to work out why I do it but I’m always amazed by how many of us do, against all the odds. I only know that in those periods when I’m not writing, I feel something is wrong and feel unfulfilled and irritated. Weird. But it’s always nice to know we’re not alone in our weirdness.

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