People often say writing is a lonely business, and that can be true. You do need to switch off the media and focus, often for long periods of time. But writers do so, even when we continue to be unpublished, because we long to communicate. We want to talk to many people, not just our immediate circle. We want to share our ideas, our humour, and our concerns for the world and for each other.
But most of all, we want to be loved. Maybe you would prefer ‘admired’ or ‘appreciated’, but it boils down to the same thing: a deep need to be praised and recognised for doing something good.
I admire the writer Will Self. His books are hard, funny, bitter and often dark. I can see on the page the battles he has to write his truth, and he is adamant he only writes for himself. Yet he publishes. Why? So that the rest of us can see the world through his eyes. He wants to communicate, and be appreciated and admired for his skill. Yep, he wants to be loved.
So, to come to the present. To this morning, in fact. I blogged recently about an ex-policeman who agreed to read my book and check it for accuracy. Well, he finished it and texted me this morning to say that, although he has a few suggestions, he enjoyed it. He is the first ‘stranger’ to read it, and I can hardly believe that he liked it. My heart soared! Maybe I’m not rubbish at this. Maybe I can get a book published…
Funny how we think we believe in ourselves but still be consumed, a bit at a time, by the worm of doubt. As I finished the fourth draft in November, and have had it out to various people to read and comment, I’ve been slowly losing the joy that came with finishing a first manuscript and have been cringing at its crassness every time a new writer emerges with an amazing debut. Today’s positive comment has restored me. The power of a bit of praise!
I suppose I’d better get on with the covering letter, and I could probably tweak the synopsis (again). Then I can crack on with something else, because it’s also strange that, however low we may get, we are driven to keep on doing it. I must remember that every bit I write, even if I can’t think where to use it, improves my grasp of this complex, tricky, fulfilling craft.