Monday, June 15, 2015

It must be lovely to write a book

If I had a pound, or even a dollar, for every time someone has said this to me I would have enough money not to have to write books.  They always say it with such a wistful expression that I can't bear to say that actually, when you're sitting facing a blank screen, devoid of inspiration and with a deadline fast approaching, it isn't lovely at all. I usually mutter something feeble about it having its moments, and leave it at that, in case their next question is 'Then why do you do it?'

George Orwell put it this way. 'All writers are vain, selfish and lazy and at the very bottom of their motives there lies a mystery. Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon which one can neither resist nor understand.'

I certainly have that inner demon. Indeed, I have a little personal fantasy that when I was born my parents had a christening party to which, in the best traditions, they invited the Good Fairy. In she came, in pink tulle with spangles, tiptoed over to my crib and peered in. 'Oh, what a dear little thing,' she cooed. 'I must give her a wonderful gift.'

But while she was thinking what that should be the door burst open and in stormed the Bad Fairy wearing black rags and DMs whom my parents had, also in the best traditions, forgotten to invite. She stomped across to the crib and said, 'Yuck! What a disgusting little brat! I must put on a horrible curse.'

And then, in unison, they said, 'She shall be a writer.'

When I was younger I used to say that one day I would retire, relax and do all the other fun things you can't do when you have a book to write. A couple of friends, successful authors, have said to me that if their next project doesn't work out, they'll do just that.

I realise now that I couldn't. I wouldn't enjoy it. I'm miserable without the imaginary world I've lived in since a childhood peopled with imaginary friends, who were so much rewarding in their obedience to my wishes than the real ones were.

For better or worse, for as long as I can string together coherent sentences, there I will be at my keyboard telling stories. I have no alternative. The fairies' gifts didn't come with a 'Use By' date.

1 comment:

Eileen Goudge said...

Great post, Aline! I too fantasize about retirement, then think, How exactly would that work? What would I do when my imaginary friends come knocking, as they invariably do? Seems I'm stuck. On the other hand, there's nowhere else I'd rather be.