No, the Title Wasn’t Just
for the Sake of the Rhyme
You’re in the shit – admit it.
Lots of writing manuals (yes, this is a writing manual) begin by addressing a virgin subject – a person who has always wanted to write and now has found the time to commit to buying a manual that will give them some idea how to begin and (if they get their money’s worth) how to continue for a while, until they give up.
This is not you – you are not this.
No, you are someone who has come to this blog out of exhaustion or desperation or self-hate or a moment of genuine humility.
It’s possible you have read numerous blogs about writing, and yet you’ve still recently found yourself back in the shit.
In fact you’ve become, as the sixties’ song has it, King Midas in Reverse. Not only are you in the shit but everything you touch, in the hope of dragging yourself out of the shit and onto some solid, unbrown, unstinky ground, itself turns instantly to shit.
I could be polite, and call it something else that really means what the s-word means – mire, midden, crap. But I am aiming, in this blog, to be honest and direct.
To say someone is in the mire is to pretend to turn them into a medieval peasant. The moment for being medieval is long gone (there may still be a moment for pretending to be medieval, but not within the time scheme of this blog).
If I am speaking to another writer who has been generous enough to ask me where I am with my latest project, and I answer by saying, ‘Well, I’m really in it,’ they will know I mean the shit and they will know what the shit means.
In the shit means –
total, universal, molecular doubt –
doubt that appears to undermine any hope of progress or even of indicating that time is passing.
Writers can easily appear self-pitying to non-writers. This is where we live, this shitty doubt; we live on intermittent islands of fertility reached by noxiously epic journeys through wastes of the slubby brown stuff.
Writing is a product of your body and, like any product of your body, it is a thing that – when you come back to it after a gap of time – is likely to disgust and distress you. (The teenage jar of nail-clippings, rediscovered in your twenties. Eugh!)
So I am not talking to anyone who is just beginning and whose only problem is what kind of nice paper to buy and what kind of nice pen or paper to use or, more likely, what helpful software within which to open up a blank document upon which flatteringly stickered laptop within which coffee shop.
You already have a history, my writing friend, and it’s not a pretty one.
But what kind of writer are you? Think about that, ahead of next week.
Write a one page sketch of how you tend to write, and in what kind of shit you usually get stuck.