Why you can take your "You must write every day" advice and shove it…

I think some people are born story tellers whether they choose to write them down (type them up) or not. I told stories before I could read, and after I could read I would sit on my swing and tell my “Jackanory” stories to the pretend camera that filmed me. I was a great gossip at school, I always knew how to get maximum impact from relating anecdotes and so on. I told true life stories in chronological order, I ramped up the anticipation, I delivered the punch lines with flourish. I still get irritated when people can’t tell me the exact details of things. “Ooh, what did he say when she said that?” I will prompt. It matters. I will see an old woman with a shopping basket and create a sentence about her in my mind, sometimes the sentence expands, a possible story floats for a moment or two, I dismiss it or mentally file it. It’s how I see the world and try to make sense of it. It’s the way my brain works. I know other people who feel the same, and I know plenty of people who don’t. I can’t turn it off, it’s part of me, which is why when I don’t write stories still waft in and out of my consciousness.

Countless times I have read or been told that to be a writer one has to write, which is fair enough surely. If you’re not writing you’re not a writer are you? But what you could be is a story teller, soaking up those moments, absorbing the possibilities and waiting to see if you feel like writing. Yup, I said “feel like”. Gasp. Because the other thing I read/get told repeatedly is that a writer HAS TO write every day. No matter if you feel like it or not, if you want to earn the label writer then damn you, you’d better fucking write.


So if I am erratic, chaotic, slave to my own whims, ill health, duties and so on, then my words aren’t as valuable as they could be if I forced them out every day? I think that’s untrue. For quite some time I gritted teeth and wrote daily, determined to prove my worth as a writer and do whatever is necessary, and the words landed on my screen dry as dust. Day after day, nothingy words that I kidded myself I could “polish and shine.”

Now I know, they were worthless. They remain useless. Meaningless. I stopped writing. And I have heard more than once that if you can’t cope with the grind then maybe you’re not cut out to be a writer. That makes me want to tear down walls and bellow – “How dare you be so judgmental?” I think everyone should deviate from whatever feels wrong. I detest the prescriptive advice of “write everyday, at least X amount of words”. I want to challenge this wisdom. Or what? You have to write X amount of words per day or else you can’t be in my gang? If you don’t write daily you aren’t serious enough? Really? I am pretty damn serious about my words actually, that’s why the cheap, easy words that I spewed out felt so crappy.

On Sunday I wrote a flash, it bubbled up inside me on Saturday, insisted on being written. I like it, it has something that was lacking in all my daily words, some heart.

I’m not a big cheese author but I have had some successes, been published in some fabulous places, placed in competitions, had positive feedback and even, gasp, payment for my words. I’m a mother, a human, a writer, a bookseller. You telling me I don’t have the right to call myself a writer is as ridiculous as you saying I’m not a bookseller because I only work one day a week at the bookshop.

Not writing, just being.

I haven’t written for a few weeks. I should never stop, stopping fucks me up.

It was my twins 11th birthdays so I spent time shopping, wrapping, baking a disastrous cake, and my parents stayed for a few days, then it it was half term. School started back this week but my husband has been off sick with a virus. There have been lots of family gubbins, stresses, worries, grr’s. I had this idea that if I worked my way through my list of Things To Do I would clear space for writing and get back to it. My list is never ending. I cross one thing off and add two or three. I forgot that there is no space. I have to ignore all the jobs and write, dammit. So, today I sit down to do just that, words on a screen, no big deal. Only my health issues are flaring and my head is full of fucked up fuzz and not much else.

I shouldn’t have stopped.

But. Whispering somewhere in me is the idea that maybe I just shouldn’t have started.

There’s a gazillion writers out there, I’m not special, I’m not any whoop whoop talent. I’m out of energy. What if I stopped trying to write The Novel and just relaxed, played with words, enjoyed the creative process a bit more. But, then I’d hate myself for not finishing. God, I hate myself anyway, and I particularly hate that I sound so fucking whiny.

Best get on.

Struggling, not writing, grief

I don’t know if I should write this or not.  I pretty much keep feeling that. I have so many thoughts and emotions spilling out of me because Matt has died that I clamp my lips shut and don’t speak at all. I am nervous what may pour out, I can’t distinguish between what must stay private and what it is appropriate to say. This is my writing blog, not a place for personal woe. But fuck it eh, in my description over there it says writer, mother, bookseller, human. Death is part of being human. And I feel as if I have to let some of this out before I explode messily with it.

Thank you to those of you who left a comment here, at our LJ, or sent an email. It honestly meant a lot to me that you took the time. I know there’s not much that can be said, but saying something is good, definitely.

I feel so much more lonely now that he’s not here. There are things that have happened that are darkly funny, and I would like to share them with Matt, because he’s the person that would find them amusing. 

Even opening my Mac is a lonelier experience because Matt and I emailed so frequently or left comments around the net for each other, that the absence of his words baffles me. I click from email to internet, site to site, click, click, but I don’t settle because I can’t find what I am looking for.

I try to write, that is always my way of dealing with anything, but although my mind is writing, fictionalising as I go about my day, when I sit and try to type words there’s nothing there.


I know I have been super crappy at updating lately, but dear blog, it’s not personal, everything has been on hold. It’s just one of those times when things collide: ill health, family needs, holidays, and things to do, always things to do.

It has been pretty gloomy actually, but today the sun shone a little, I think Spring is on its way. I have been on a mad subbing frenzy (well, mad for me who rarely subs) and sent off 5 things in the last couple of days, so fingers crossed.
In other news:
The Apprentice started last night. Now it is usually my telly highlight of the year, and it did not disappoint at all. It was all about Alex’s pretty lips, silly old De Lacey-Brown and his patronising ways, and Raef, whose words are tools, and whose hair is odd. Oh, and the wonderfully steely Margaret and Nick.
Didn’t all the blue eyes look extra blue? Odd. Anyway, I have even gone so far as to add the dubious facebook application, so if anyone wants to be hired by me just give me a shout!

That January feeling.

People seem in general to be a bit grumpy arse!
I put it down to the after Christmas blues, winter weather, nothing much to look forward to and so on. Apparently today is the day that more people book holidays on than any other. Carrot/stick.

The boys went back to school today, protesting very loudly. Which means that I start work on my novel again today. Only I haven’t.


I have however been extremely organised. I have sorted out paper work, bills, birthday presents, appointments, finances. So now I am clear to begin tomorrow. But I have appointments for blah things. (Dentist! Eeep!) Or the next day. Oh, but my brother is visiting, and then it’s my husband’s birthday. The week after then. And that’s how it goes, and the time seeps away, and I am determined that it won’t be like that this year. I will be new, improved, focused, serious, intent. I will not be distracted.


This is how it goes…

This writing I do is not all I am, it is a massive part of me, and without it I feel wrong, but it is not all. I have children, a husband, work, parents, friends, relatives. There are many demands on my time and I squish the writing into spaces in-between. Sometimes the spaces are wide and deep, and I can immerse myself in words, communicating, learning, progressing. Other times the spaces are almost too wee. For the last week or so I haven’t found any space at all. Then I lose my rhythm, and my words seem frozen. I have to begin again at chipping away.

So yeah, lengthy way of saying hi, I haven’t been around.

Oh, and I haven’t been around the blogs either, which has made me realise how addicted to this internet world I am!

This is my head.

Blah blah, here I am, feeling like a big fat fake.
I’m not a writer. Writer’s write. I’m not writing.
Well, why don’t I finish that story about the old woman?
Because I am stuck, even though I know the ending not even I am interested enough to bother.
What about the “mirror” themed story for yet another Mslexia attempt? I have an idea that I could try and make concrete.
I don’t feel well.
I honestly don’t.
It’s not an excuse.
My body is wrong, it’s fucked up. I feel rubbish.
But writing makes me feel alive and worthwhile. I need to do it.
But I’m not.
I have to try to finish a synopsis for my ha-ha-ha-ha-yeah-right-as-if novel.
I want to make a submission to the Not Yet Published book tokens thingy.
I wonder if I won’t. Something else to hate myself for.
My head is full of hot fuzz, and self disgust.
Just in case you were wondering.

Writer’s block…middle class bollocks.

This is part of an interview with Ray Robinson that I found at

(The link won’t work for some reason when I insert it.)

“I have a very blue-collar approach to my work. Writing isn’t some esoteric art; I don’t sit poised, quill in hand every morning, waiting for my monkey muse to throw some peanuts of inspiration at me. Writers block is a lazy-arse middle-class excuse to read the papers or watch Tricia. Writing, like every other art form, is a craft, and all novelists are apprentices because there’s no such thing as the perfect novel. You have to write your balls (or tits) off, all of your life, and you still might be shit at it. But that’s the thing I love about novel writing, as opposed to short stories or poems; it’s that their size, the sheer amount of words they contain, permits imperfection. I can think of a handful poems and short stories that ache with near-perfection (and by perfect I mean that if you removed a single word they would collapse; think Paul Farley; think Raymond Carver), but this simply isn’t the case with a novel – it can carry exiguous or bad writing if the bulk of the narrative is strong enough.

I try to do a nine-to-five, five days a week, and I find it helps if I leave the flat. I like working at the British Library; I find the diligent atmosphere refreshing. This is always difficult because usually I wake up (mentally, creatively) about 10 p.m. I’m preternaturally nocturnal and I rarely switch off. I find everything inspiring, and like some sick, sad pervert, I have to write for life to mean anything. So no, it’s no easy process. It’s a distorted and voyeuristic way of life with no OFF button.”

I think that has made me feel quite cheerful actually.