When I am struggling to write I often find myself musing on the process of writing and creation. I find myself poring over interviews with authors and searching between the covers of creative writing manuals to find the secret key which might help me open the door to flow again. But, although there are tantalising glimpses of what might be going on with these authors, there is never anything concrete. There’s nothing to really show the way it is to be done. Often you’ll find that authors choose to write in a particular place – in a study, in a cafe, in a shed. Sometimes it’ll be a particular writing instrument which helps – fancy Mac, grumbling ancient PC, three pence biros from WH Smith or sleek moleskine notebooks. Others might need a certain time of day.
Right now I’m facing a considerable overhaul of my manuscript. It is daunting to say the least and I feel completely overwhelmed. I don’t know whether to start again from scratch, to shoehorn in the new things I need and shave off the bits I don’t. I don’t know if I should start immediately or leave it for sixth months until things are a bit less raw.
In pondering all of these things I have found myself looking, wondering, at the blogs of authors whose books are in print. I see their smiling faces as they receive a prize or meet a reader. And I go onto their FAQ section and read about how they write, how they find their ideas. But there is little to be found there as it seems that even authors don’t really know how they do it. Though some create lists of things you should do to be a writer, most rarely expose the particular kind of neurosis it takes to line words up one after the other to create a story. And even if they did talk about those things – about the way that in writing they tackle an almost unbearable anxiety before starting, or a gut-wrenching fear at the end that everything they’ve written is terrible – maybe if they did talk about them it wouldn’t really help. Perhaps it would just convince us even more that the path is an impossible one to climb.
Of course, there are those such as Jude Deveraux who make the entire process sound like a casual stroll through the hat section of a department store. Either she’s kidding here or she doesn’t actually write her own books. Either way she does the art of writing a disservice. It is difficult and I’d like to meet another author who thinks it isn’t.