Things I find hard about being a (wannabe) writer

I wrote this piece a while ago so some facts about my everyday life is no longer true, but the rest of the content remains the same.

1. Organising things. I have a couple of embryonic novels that are scattered across four computers and my hard drive and assorted notebooks. It’s incredibly frustrating. Just thinking about it makes me anxious. I have a strong memory of writing a scene from one of these novels. I remember going into a sort of trance as I wrote it, listening to a playlist from 8tracks. I have no idea where that scene is, although I know exactly what playlist it was. I was sure I wrote it in a particular notebook, but I searched through that notebook and it’s not there. I have to stop thinking about it now because it’s making me so anxious. Sometimes I get flashes of inspiration for one or both of those novels, but I don’t know where to write it down!

2. Time. Last year I was unemployed for six months. I was writing the whole day, every day pretty much. And now, I don’t even know what I have to show for it. I was working on a sequel to a novel that wasn’t finished. Now, I think, why did I prioritise that? I hate it when people say they don’t have time to write, so I try never to say it. But I don’t know. I don’t really have time to write at the moment. I go into work from 8-4 most days, and do my research stuff. When I had that week off, I did heaps of writing. I think I wore myself out.

I am scared that I am using being busy and living in a remote community as an excuse, and when I have more time and mental space, I still won’t be able to Get Shit Done. Will a room of my own and enough money to live on be enough? I don’t know, Virginia, you tell me.

3. Ideas. It’s not that I don’t have ideas. It’s that I have too many. And some of them seem really stupid. And some of them I haven’t written down yet, but they keep coming back to bug me. There’s that old concept of brain crack that threatens me. Brain crack is when you think about an idea so much that it takes on such an awesomeness in your head that will never transfer onto the page, or whatever is your creative form.

4. Finishing things. When I left my period of half a year of unemployment to go study, I felt depressed because I hadn’t achieved anything.

5. More Ideas. Right now I have four word documents open. I just got one idea after another of what I wanted to write about, in the space of five minutes, including this one. None of them are the projects I am currently trying to finish. It is hard to know when to feed the pixie and when to knuckle down and get shit done. I know the answer to that, really, that I should always feed the pixie, and just remember when she’s not around to Get Shit Done, ala the Pool. Or the Puzzle. But I don’t know, I forget. Or I’m tired. Or something. I never know if my excuses are reasonable or not. I find it hard to know when to kick myself in the bum and when to give myself some grace.

Dammit! I just opened one of the documents and it was empty. I didn’t write down the thought I had immediately upon having it. Now it’s just an empty idea.

Dammit! I still can’t remember it!

I am sick today and I don’t feel like writing, but I had all these ideas and I had to get them done. Now the moment is fading and I am left with the memory of intense inspiration.

I wish I could remember what that other idea was. Why did I flip away from the word document when I opened it? Why didn’t I write it down straightaway? Even a word would jog me.

But really, I shouldn’t be bothered, because it will come back. You know how people used to say, ‘If it’s important you’ll remember it again’? That used to frustrate me because I know that it is just as easy to forget important things as unimportant. But these days, when it comes to inspiration, I can trust that it will always come around again. The idea will bubble up again, and it will probably be fuller when it does.

6. Submitting. People tell you not to give up, and to keep submitting. In the last year, I have probably only submitted one piece of writing (see: finishing things). But nobody ever told me that submitting to short story prizes and magazine often costs money. How much money am I willing to invest in this one short story? Oh no that’s not true. There is also an article I wrote that I have submitted to two different places, and not heard back.

People say rejection letters are painful. I would like to receive a rejection letter. Because all I get it this resounding silence which makes me wonder if I even ever submitted it to that magazine. I should keep a record of the submissions I make. See above: Organising things.

That short story, I only wrote it because I had to for a class. Mostly I write on novels, because I find the longer form more interesting. And I write shorter non-fiction stuff, some of which ends up on my blog, some of which waits for better days and someone to publish it.

I think part of writing novels and long-form non-fiction, is it takes longer, so I don’t have to think about the submitting process. It’s a crutch and I know it.

7. Writing about writing. I am so sick of it. It seems so solipsistic. But the blog posts on this blog that have got the most action have been about writing. So maybe it’s something that people are interested to read about. I know that I am interested to know about other people’s experiences. Which leads me to the next point.

8. Loneliness. I am happy that I can talk to people here about writing, but I don’t feel part of a writerly community. Maybe I can try to do that more when I live in Melbourne. Maybe I can try to do more of it on the internet too. That’s what I like about nanowrimo; feeling part of a group writing rather than stuck away in my contemporary equivalent of a garret.

9. Editing. Now that I’m into this editing thing, I can’t get anything done. This whole piece of writing is now up to 1137 words of stream-of-consciousness rabble, so I probably want to clean it up before I publish it. But I will probably also forget to do that, and it will sit in My Documents getting stale with everything else. Or I’ll think of it, but say ‘No I should be editing my novel instead.’ And then do neither. [Edited to add: I wrote this months ago and am only now publishing it. So yes, it did get stale].

Same like unedited videos. I bought a licenced version of the free editing program I had downloaded, so I can make movies without having the logo right across the middle. But now I just have to get around to doing it. I realise this is straying from the original topic, but it’s all wrapped up in the same neuroses for me.

10. Pressure. I am at this stage in my life. It is called unmarried, and without children. I am told that husbands and children are quite the time-suck – especially children. I am hoping to have both at some point in the future. But meanwhile, I feel as though I should be shoving aside my whining about loneliness and taking advantage of my current status to be writing as much as possible. I worry that I’m not using my ‘freedom’ to its maximum potential.


I don’t know how to finish this, except to say that if you have had similar experiences to mine, or you understand at all what I am on about, I welcome your comments.


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