Navel-gazing

It all started with this on my friend’s Facebook page:

These images really got me thinking, because this pretty much sums up many people’s attitudes to writers and writing.

Whenever I tell people I’m a writer, living in the countryside, I always get the same reaction; “Ah, that’ll be inspiring. You can look at the sea for hours on end, waiting for the ideas to come. That’s the life!

Well, yes, in many ways, it is the life. I’ve surrounded myself with beautiful views and inspiring people, and I get to do what I love every day. But as any writer knows, writing doesn’t entail sitting and waiting for an idea to form; writing is hard work. You have to discipline yourself to sit and write every day – you have to make ideas work, yet be prepared to scrap hours, days, or even several months’ worth of work if the plot/characters/general ideas don’t work out in the end. And you also have to be ruthless and selfless enough to spot the failure in the first place, despite the time and effort you’ve invested.

Writing can be lonely, time consuming and takes an enormous amount of self control – it’s a selfish monster but, if you’re a writer, it’s a necessity. Writing is embedded in your soul and words need to be formed, manipulated and loved on a daily basis, no matter what else is going on in your life. But don’t get me wrong; writing is also a complete delight. And there’s an unidentifiable joy that you gain from jumping into the sea of language and coming up with a handcrafted pearl.

As writers, we take huge risks to follow our passion, our dream. We risk isolation, rejection and failure as, every day, we strive for perfection. We practise and train as much as athletes, craving success and recognition as well as the satisfaction of producing an enjoyable read. Ask any writer; you can write for yourself and try to feel satisfied with your work but there’s an inherent need for verification in the form of a publishing deal.

Yet, with or without a publisher behind us, we have to remind ourselves on a daily basis that yes, we’re writers. We have to know what we’re aiming for and be prepared to go out and get it. So we stoke up our laptops and wield our pens, then leap back into the tide – unsure of where we’re going but delighted to be going on the journey.

Why? Because, contrary to popular belief, writers don’t navel gaze; they write. No matter what else is going on, writing is our driving force for everyday life. And, I must say, it’s magical.

How do you keep the magic alive and keep on writing?

Sailing into the unknown

(originally posted on my old blog, Serendipitypoetry)

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