Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Guilty pleasures

When you give up what has been your life to become a writer you hope for the best and know you'll just have to deal with all the baggage that comes with your decision.

What you can't prepare for, because nobody's warned you about it or written about it, is the guilt.

Just after Christmas I had a couple of weeks off to concentrate on research and some new ideas I'd come up with. It was a perfectly professional thing to do and what I achieved in that couple of weeks will hopefully one day help to deal with the aforesaid baggage. So why did I wake up every morning feeling guilty that I wasn't working? All day long my fingers would be itching to get back to the keyboard and start pounding away. My brain would be telling itself it couldn't afford to be taking this holiday.

It might be a hangover from the days in a structured working environment when, to a certain extent, if you weren't working you weren't earning. But the real answer, I think, is something I suspect just about every writer, no matter how successful, faces: the fear that if you stay away from a book for too long you might lose whatever it is that made you a writer in the first place.

When I finally got down to the serious job of writing my next book I felt a huge sense of relief when, after the usual jumpy start, the paragraphs started flowing and the characters formed in my head and began talking to me the way they sometimes do. It doesn't matter that I'll be more or less chained to the keyboard for the next X months, or that when I finally get up off the writing chair at night after X hours and X thousand words I'll be completely knackered. Because at this moment I'm still a writer.


lizziee said...

When we first moved to Madrid and had six months off, somehow it only felt indulgent from Mon-Fri. The weekends were "Oh thank God it's the weekend", just as if we were working a normal job. I think once that way of life is drummed into you, it's forever.

Doug said...

Yeah, I'm much the same.

I don't really have to work every day, but I have this urge to get things done. Just can't get rid of that bloody work ethic. I've set myself a daily target that I thought wasn't really possible but so far I've hit it every day (it helps that I can't stand anything on the telly and skulk off to the office to work at night, which I suppose it means I still think of it as a hobby as well as job).

Are you going to do your masters then? And where, dare I ask, did those Double Deckers come from?

Gabriele C. said...

I'm a bad girl; I don't feel guilty. ;)

I suppose it has to do with the fact that I work on freelancing basis for several years now, that writing and my other work (editing, translating, the odd website development and other stuff) sort of merge, and I have my own schedule anyway, adapted to my nightowl sleeping pattern. :)

There's a lot of freedom in this, but little money, unfortunately. A regular job would pay better, but it's not easy getting one aged 48 in this economics.

Gabriele C. said...

BTW, the photos I posted today should make you feel right at home. :)

Lizziee said...

Seriously thinking about the Masters, but not sure. Apart from studying, which would be good, I don't know what it would gain me workwise so perhaps I need to think of something else . . . But the OU course does look good.

And the Double Deckers were from a pal in Hello's London office. Bless her! (Altho' they didn't taste as nice as Nikki's!)