CSFG

The Making of Good Writers

Guest post by Zena Shapter

I’ve had this thought so many times…

Wouldn’t it be nice to do nothing else in life but write?

Usually it’s when I’m working on an uninspiring work project, on my hands and knees cleaning up milk spilt by the kids (yet again), or washing clothes covered in mud, chocolate or I-don’t-want-to-know-what!! It’s when I’m writing to a deadline on the computer, yet my husband calls out from the shower to ask if he should put the feed ‘n’ weed on the lawn this weekend or next. Argh!

Yes, it would be nice to just… write! Bliss would be having writing as my only job… To get up in the morning and just go to work – aka write – then stay there all day, come home, eat dinner and relax.

Instead I’ve got these kids to grow, a creative writing / editing / social media consultancy to run, I teach too, and do pro bono work, and there’s a house to manage with dinners to cook and clothes to wash (wow – are my kids/husband as messy as everyone else’s??), and the juggling to earn money and keep the family happy just goes on and on. So, yes, it would be lovely just to focus on… writing. Wouldn’t it? Wouldn’t that be nice?

Well, actually, no. I mean, yes it would be nice. But I don’t want nice, and not just because I love my family.

I wouldn’t want that kind of lifestyle because I also cherish the glory of struggle. I once made a list of all the struggles I’ve had in my life to date and it was quite long. Some people might feel sorry for themselves looking at a list like that. But not me. Only my parents, brother and husband know everything that’s on my list because I live life looking forwards, not backwards. I love my life now all the more for what it took me to get here, and now that I’m here you’d never know when you meet me that I’d ever struggled at all.

But I cherish that list for another reason too.

If all I did was write… if all I ever did was write… how would I connect with readers through my writing?

We all struggle. Life isn’t about having an easy ride of it. So novels shouldn’t be about having an easy ride either. Readers can also spot fakeness, struggles written by someone with no idea about real life. So why should I want that for my writing?

I don’t.

I don’t want to live differently to everyone else. I cherish the normalcy of my life’s difficulties, if there is such a thing! I welcome that normalcy because it took me so long to find it.

If, one day, when the kids have flown their nest and my novels are on the international bestseller lists, if then I do find myself writing and only writing everyday, I’m sure I’ll manage. As with my life to date, I’ll cherish it because of the struggles it took me to get there. But until then I’m going to try harder to enjoy the difficulty of my ride, and take more notes along the way. One day, those notes may be all that grounds me as I continue to write to connect with everyday readers – readers that struggle to get what they want, readers just like me.

So the next time you go wishing the world away, yearning for a time with only writing in your life, take my advice and think twice – after all, it’s the struggles that make you who you are.

 

3 Thoughts on “The Making of Good Writers

  1. Joanne McCarron on July 15, 2014 at 9:56 am said:

    Hi Ian,

    Thanks for this post from Zena.

    When I first started reading it I felt she was missing the point so I was glad to find later in the post that she thinks family and living life are so important, in themselves, as well as to the writer’s life. I know some writers have the need, the creative impulse, to write all the time, like Rilke, and that is fine, though as I understand it I think Rilke’s family missed out a bit which I wouldn’t like for myself. But it is who they are, it is what they need to do, it is their life, it is their choice. I think probably for most writers though, balance is best, variety, things other than writing, living. If nothing else, I’m sure it makes their writing better.

    Thanks again,
    Joanne

  2. Joanne McCarron on July 15, 2014 at 10:24 am said:

    I think that last sentence doesn’t quite make sense but then I’m a little tired. I think it makes more sense if the words ‘If nothing else’ are removed. thanks.

  3. Pingback: Do You Want to Write… and Nothing Else? #CSFG « Zena Shapter

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