Midsummer is approaching and I don’t know what you’ll be doing but I’ll be climbing a mountain (in my mind) and setting light to a bonfire of some kind, in order to bring good fortune to the second half of the year. It’s most important as a writer to make regular sacrifices and offerings to the gods of writing, because this business of writing books is hard enough without getting a little divine intervention along the way.
Since we’re halfway through the WriteMentor year too, it seems like a good moment to look back at where we have been and to look forward at where we are going. As for myself, I had a lot to do settling into my new home – I only completed on December 29th, on a cold and damp winter’s day. Even down here in the southwest of France it can be intemperate at times, and this, my first winter in this new corner of France, was a particularly wet and cold one, I’m told. Yet the months have flown by, and as I concentrated day by day on furnishing this room or fixing that boiler, it’s now a sumptuously warm June the 1st, the house is more or less done, and the garden is coming into its best season. I am left however, with the feeling of not having done enough. Why is that?
I know exactly why. It’s because that’s how writers always feel. I know this because I have asked all my writer friends, and we all feel the same way. Nothing is ever enough. Not this book being published or that book award being bestowed. Not even, the sense of achievement of finishing a new manuscript. Now, I don’t want to sound ungrateful for all these things – they have happened to me and I value them, it’s just that every writer I have seen say; ‘I’ll be happy when I finally get published’ finds that, when they do, they’re not. We writers are just made this way, I think, and I mention this because while it upsets a lot of us, I think we have to turn it around. I think we have to be grateful for this inability to ever satisfy ourselves, because it is this that makes you sit down in that chair again, and again, and each time, you try to do better. It’s a gift if you look at it that way; it’s only a curse if you let it drive you crazy; if you let yourself believe that a book deal or a zillion copies sold or all the adulation in the world will fill that hole inside you. They won’t. But that hole inside you will make you write an amazing book one day, it really will.
Looking forward, then, I have to determine to take that hole inside me and use it to achieve what I want to achieve for the second half of the year – and that’s a lot, from where I’m sitting here, on June the 1st, and panicking slightly. Ok, more than slightly. I have to edit a short novel, write a novella, write ¾ of the big project I am trying to make happen, run four writing retreats, work for two mentoring groups, and one educational organisation. Somewhere in there, I hope to feed myself, and sleep and maybe even have some fun, which can feel like a distant memory sometimes, when one lives alone. But fun is utterly important to a writer, play is indispensable, and so that’s something I’ll try to put into this month’s webinar.
In the meantime, I hope you can be kind to yourself about your writing progress – no matter what happens, you are only ever learning more about one of the most fascinating journeys in the world.
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Author Marcus Sedgwick is 2022 Novel Writer-in-Residence for the Hub, WriteMentor’s community learning platform that connects like-minded storytellers and provides all the tools they need for writing success.
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