The Bridport Prize newsletter today asks people to send in their thoughts on “what it’s really like to be a writer”. So I thought I would make my thoughts public on here.
I hope that must of us will put down something different. And I think that is when we have achieved what it means to be “a writer”. To stop comparing ourselves with others and be the writer we are meant to be. Also for me to be a writer means so much more than – to be a published writer!
I’ve just read Stephen King’s “On Writing” and he says that one has to write 1000 words a day, but I am no Stephen King. My writing day also contains walking the dog, housework, cooking, shopping, supporting friends, looking for freelance work, planning and advertising writing groups. So I have more going on in my day than Stephen King.
I know of some writers who work outside the house full time, have a family and yet still are amazing and complete a book and get published. I am not like that. I get easily distracted by the shiny things – an email to answer, a WhatsApp from my kids or from a friend, a website I want to explore. I think if I’d been at school now they would have labeled me as ADD. I cannot sit and look at the keyboard waiting for a thought to transpire into a word/words/story. I flit off and check out Wordle or Solitaire or emails!
But on a walk, just me and dog, or in my car or led in bed the words come. Most times I cannot write them down, especially not when driving. But I trust that I will remember what I am meant to remember and will find the time to write it down when I do. I know one of the greats, but can’t remember who, said re-waxed the stairs in the huge house he lived in whilst writing one of his best known books. Wish I could remember who that was!
I am part of a group called The Write Place who meet in person in Frome but also meet on Zoom and just write. I knew them when I lived near Frome but not that I am over 250 miles away I connect via Zoom. Just we say a quick hello but then just get on and do the stuff. That does help but my nature is that, once I cannot think of anything to write I still get distracted. So good though it is for me it still cannot keep me staring at the screen waiting for that word to come.
But I love to write. I would say I’ve always written. I’ve always been a writer. I write to explore what I am thinking, to record an event, when something makes me laugh or cry or I feel passionate about. All these blog post are things I want to share with others. For me writing is a way to share my thoughts with others. I feel that if it’s written down then it has been a true thought.
I love to encourage others to write, which is why I run writing groups in my area under the name Barefoot At The Kitchen Table – barefooted so that one is connected with the land and the kitchen table because it is always where the best conversations happen. I could probably do more writing if I didn’t do this but I so love this. And I would say running these groups is also part of what makes me a writer.
So for me “to be a writer” means that I must write. And write I do though do get “confused” between what counts as writing. Take this morning for example – I was up at 6.30, wrote a plan for a short story I’m working for homework for a course I’m on, did 2 pages of “Morning pages“, then got dressed, walked the dog, read emails, had breakfast, wrote up the notes for my story, sorted the website I use for my writing groups and then am writing this. All writing and all part of me exploring me through my words but very little of it will be published but that is ok.
Being a writer means being ok with being me and who I am.