Don’t disturb me – I’m not writing!

I’ve been busy with writing-related things recently: helping to organise the Evesham Festival of Words, editing the file for the Festival’s anthology of the winners and shortlisted writers’ stories, compiling interviews for The Short Story, starting teaching a new ten-week course on the short story etc etc. And I’m about to be pre-occupied judging the Worcs Lit Fest flash fiction competition.

But what I haven’t been doing is writing. Creative writing, that is.

Does it matter? Don’t I deserve a break after all the hard work completing The Broken Road?

Well, perhaps it doesn’t, but why do I keep going over in my head the first chapter for the next novel I plan to write? Why am I delaying starting it? Is the danger that I might never write it? As Bill Hayes writes in the New York Times:

At a party one night, a very artistic looking young man with an Errol Flynn moustache warned me that I must not take a break for too long. “It won’t come back,” he said gravely. “I stopped writing in 1999, and now I can barely write a press release.”

I can’t say this didn’t scare me a bit. What if I really never wrote or published again?

Image result for not writing

While I was pondering the question, I read an article in Saturday’s Guardian by Anne Enright. I heard Anne Enright speak at the West Cork Literary Festival in 2013 (when I was there for the launch of the Fish Publishing anthology, which included my flash fiction, Dexter’s Lover!) and I found what she had to say about writing fascinating. Equally her article in The Guardian struck a chord with me, especially this sentence:

I feel lonely for the novel I am not writing yet.

What better way to describe my feelings about the novel I still haven’t started? Words floating round in my head might be valuable preparation, but it’s not starting! Anne Enright goes on to say: I have learned how to put a book away for later, though there is always a slight anxiety it will be lost. Too long a sacrifice can make a stone of the heart. Hope deferred makes the hear sick. Not my heart. I keep the book safe.

That’s all very well, but suppose my experience is more that of the artistic young man in New York – ‘It won’t come back.’

There’s only one answer:

Image result for not writing

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4 Comments

  1. Polly says:

    Quite right too…so follow that brilliant advice 🙂

  2. Well I’m pleased that first chapter of the next book keeps turning up. Of course you will write it.
    I’ve only just got around to reading Anne Enright’s article and loved the comment about ‘four hours at desk, no work done’ and that she hasn’t been in a study for eight years. It gives me hope.

  3. Lindsay says:

    I’ll try, Polly!

  4. Lindsay says:

    It goes round and round in my head all the time, Caroline. It would be much easier to write the damn thing!
    Anne Enright is great. I like the sentence ‘I write 100 words of so of something that isn’t anything.’

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