Friday, 5 October 2012

Write Through This

Sometimes it's hard to be a writer (sung to the tune of "Stand by Your Man" by Tammy Wynette)

OK, let's change that to all the time it's hard to be a writer (doesn't scan very well, but never mind)...

Firstly, there's the self-doubt that needs to be overcome (or at least contained) on a daily basis.

Secondly, there's the ever-present reality of rejection, misunderstandings, dashed or thwarted hopes.

Thirdly, there is the difficulty of getting a piece of work started and the hard slog of getting it finished, edited, polished, submitted...

Not easy. Not for the faint-hearted or the lazy or the insecure.

But there are times when being a writer is made even harder by circumstances well beyond the world of agents and publishers, far outside the processes of drafting, editing, submitting.

There's the day job, for one. For most writers, a paid job is essential. For some writers, work may be a hard physical slog or one that seems menial and soul-destroying.   For others, that day job can be a demanding one like teaching or social work, which are not stressful and time-consuming, but can also use up valuable of creative energy...

And then there are those pesky kids, who are generally more time-consuming (and stress-inducing) than any spell of 9-5!

And if all these things aren't enough of a hindrance to creative work, there are the other difficulties, often invisible to the outside world. There are personal problems--illnesses, relationship issues, financial hardship, worries about children, parents, friends.

Writers may seem to non-writers as people who thrive on conflict and high drama, but what most writers need in order to to flourish and to stay focussed is quiet and calm. What can we do, then, when the "real" world just isn't co-operating.

The answer is, of course, to paraphrase the title of Hole's 1994 album: "Write Through This."

I have never liked the idea of writing as "therapy" (except in certain clinical situations, obviously). I have never written about my own experiences--I was never a journal-keeper or a diary writer, even as a teen. But writing has, at times, been a sanctuary from a turbulent emotional situation or, at least, a place to hide out or lay low for awhile.

Writing can be a safe haven, where the writer can, temporarily, stay in control. It's an escape hatch to a world that can be molded into any shape. And even though it may be hard to write when the world is caving in or the bullets are flying, writing can be a bunker, a suit of armour, a shelter from the storm.

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