Friday, 13 July 2012

Live by the Pen

Do we need to be disciplined to be successful writers? Well, you probably won't get very far if you approach it in a slap dash manner, thinking it's a cinch and you're about to make some easy money. Making the money is perhaps the most difficult part because after all, how many great authors today faced multiple rejections? Did they not write well? Yes, of course they did. They simply experienced great difficulty in getting publishers to accept that their work would sell and be in demand.

When you take for example, J K Rowling who herself faced many rejections before getting a publishing deal, it's phenomenal how her books literally took flight, making her extremely wealthy - and the publishers in the process. I read the complete set with my eldest son -he was 5 when we started and each night I couldn't wait to pick up where we had left off -I think it was a competition as to which one of us loved them more. If it hadn't been for my son I'd never have dreamt of buying the books and so it is that I hear that familiar piece of writerly advice again, 'read out of your comfort zone.'

Someone once told me that writing was one of the hardest 'professions' (you may prefer 'career path' or caling) as it was so difficult to find a publisher and to make a decent living from it. They had a point. However, when you have no career like me, having sacrificed it all including a comfortable salary that would easily afford a new wardrobe full of clothes and shoes thank you very much, and it's always been your desire to write, then what have you to lose? 'Nothing,' I hear you cry - precisely right.

Thinking positively, you have everything to gain including confidence, achievements and perhaps a nice warm feeling of self fulfillment. You can at least give yourself a pat on the back even if no one else will. But seriously, what is it that drives us as writers? I can't fully explain my own drive but if you can imagine hearing a voice in your head (no you don't have to worry about me I can assure you that I am perfectly sane) that is rather like your co author, then that is what drives me.

It's a force, whether it's purely the sub conscious part of the brain over which there is no control, or whether it's spiritual, it's presence is felt every day. It has a hold over me and refuses to leave. This is what urges me forwards prompting me to tell the story, to give my characters life and to rekindle history, immortalizing it through the creation of more literature.

Why is literature so vital to our society? Well, it has many functions, including education. Think of historical fiction -revealing true facts you never knew. Biographical accounts also evoke insightful experiences. I wonder if the greatest gift however is that of pure enjoyment. I love it when the book devours me whole and you can feel what the characters feel; smell the scents and visualize the scenes. All of your senses come alive and spring into action. All that the author had hoped for becomes reality as the reader is lost, taken in and living alongside the characters, willing, hoping for the best ending.

I truly hope to be writing for as long as there is breath in my body as it's simply the best form of creative expression for me and it's purely mine. There is no boss/manager; no start or finish times; you are autonomous and responsible for yourself and your own work - just the way I like it. It was Seamus Heaney who quotes in his poem, 'Digging,' :

'Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I'll dig with it.'
[Seamus Heaney]

 If I can live by my pen then I shall always be grateful and count my blessings.