One of the concerns I have with this blog is that it will eat writing time, rather than contribute to my writing life. I made an effort today to work on differentiating characters in the much revised draft of my third novel. It has improved immeasurably over the last couple of years – but how long should I engage in this ‘finishing’ process. I was aware of over-familiarity as I worked today and begin to wonder if I shouldn’t just self-publish. This novel, along with the WWII letters & memoir project, has been in the finishing stages for over a year now. When they were both out of my hands on a recce recently I got so excited and involved with my new project, I realised how much I was missing that buzz of pulling in new ideas and images. For a month or so, I was alive with input, sensing music differently processing words differently, now I am back in that other – but equally necessary – ‘finishing’ phase.
Writing, like my earlier careers in sculpture and scientific research, is project work. I like that. I like moving through the phases: creative; engineering; labour; finishing and peer review. Each is good to start and great to finish; none of them are so pleasurable when the record gets stuck in the same groove.
On the other hand, the only qualification that seems essential to getting published is a certain level of bloody-mindedness that refuses to accept defeat. I’m not suggesting that you don’t have to learn to write as well as possible first, but it is clear that being able to write is not, by itself, going to get you to publication. I have an instinct not to start a new project until the previous one is wrapped up, so I have at the very least to get the fiction – Border Line – launched before I can enjoy the playtime of my next project.
Hmm, this morning I was reading this book about a year in music (1853), Berlioz, Liszt, Schumann, Brahms, Wagner etc all composers still famous today, battling away with daily life, but alongside them many others equally, or more, famous in their day and known only to specialists now. There are others too, some perhaps with as much potential, getting nowhere. They are all earning a living conducting, playing, writing or something else – but not composing. No one has it easy and luck and bloody-mindedness strike me as on at least an equal footing with talent.
This is a dull post, but I planned to think aloud – so there we go. And thinking aloud, I am sad about the choice of new pope. Not that I have any feeling about the church as such, and he seems a generally pleasant guy, but he is clearly not going to release the stranglehold the Catholic church holds over women and men’s health. I had a passing hope that an enlightened pope would allow contraception to his followers. I suppose it was naive to expect that they would think about the fate of the world and the living.