I have been stalked by the thought of writing for a long time. Yet, hardly any words made it onto the page last month. Same old story.
I can’t remember if it was Elizabeth Gilbert in ‘Big Magic’ or Betsy Lerner in ‘The Forest For The Trees’ (or neither of them) who said, ‘Some people like to have written.’ The outcome, not the process. It rings true: when I write, I do get lost in ‘the flow’, but the most satisfactory bit is having created a Universe that, two hours before, was not there. It’s like colouring-in a part of a treasure map, while the rest of it remains sketched in graphite.
I think about writing every single day. Yet, I don’t feel compelled to go, sit at my desk and get writing. So, is it just the idea of it that I like? The pipe-dream of being a sophisticated, ‘interestingly eccentric’ writer who stares out of a window into distance as she sips her coffee and ponders the destiny of her heroine, loveable, naive and kookie.
Years ago I was taught to play the violin and the piano. I enjoyed both, especially once my violin play no longer resembled hysterical pleas of a cat being strangled. When I was in my mid-twenties, I asked for a violin as a birthday present. I played it, may be ten times, freaked out my own cats and put the instrument on top of a wardrobe where it has since remained. Shortly after turning thirty I bought a digital piano – the sound of it took my breath away at the store. In over a year I played it a handful of times. And just like with writing, every time I do it, I get an elated, almost physical sensation of enjoyment. But it can take weeks, months even, between sittings.
I have a friend, who owns a flute and a digital piano, just like mine. She plays them both regularly (not at the same time, I believe) and doesn’t shout about it. She just does it. So, what have we here? A genuine love of something versus admiring the mere idea of doing it? Authenticity versus vanity?
I am sad to realise that I may never become one of the people whom I have admired since childhood, purely because I have forgotten in the years since leaving University, how to make an effort. A failed ‘wannabe’ writer reminds me of any person who goes on a diet every other month and finishes day two with a bottle of white and a takeaway pizza.
How can you love doing something if it’s hard? How can you doubt that you love doing something if your shelves are full of books on the subject, you get an endorphin rush every time you come across a uniquely crafted story in a book, and you have made multiple (poor) attempts at it over the years?
If writing is ‘square one’ that you always go back to, what does it mean? Christ, I feel like good old Jean Valjean, singing to himself, ‘Who am I? Who am I?’ *Shakes head in silent mortification and leaves the stage.*