My favourite pieces to produce are the ones I just write. These are the ones that come out in a big old rush of emotion, driven by anger or sadness or even joy. These are the times when I have a feeling of having to write something, rather than working towards a prompt or structure.These pieces are the ones I love.
It’s easy to imagine writing is all about wafting around waiting for the muse and staring wistfully into the future but (as I was disappointed to discover) the reality is hard work. From researching where and what to submit and understanding how to improve, to reading enough to maintain my own love of language and understanding form the amount of time spent writing can feel uncomfortably small. My nature is that I distract myself with order and find safety in structure so it’s easy for me to become more planner than poet. The result of this is that I get a little lost in terms of what, and indeed why I write, so my work feels like it belongs to someone else. This isn’t about refining and editing, those are part of the joy, it’s more about finding my place in the machine, and as ever, trying to make myself fit. I think that is part of the wobble in confidence I spoke about in my previous post.
What about those moments I spoke of at the start ? Those are the crunch to the crackling, the extra cheery robin at the backdoor. They are why I keep working. I’ve had good feedback on two pieces of work recently,one from my peers as part of my Short Short Fiction course with Poetry School, and one from a random act of kindness via Twitter. Feedback from real, (and in my mind proper) writers is a grand thing and is welcome encouragement, especially when a pair of poorly weeks have limited my working capacity. I think I’m starting to find confidence in my style, that ever elusive voice. This is a big step, and a positive one.
Something else I’ve realised is the sheer amount of patience that is needed. The time from submission to response is anywhere between two to six months. That’s a long time for a praise-hungry writer. Feedback is important to me, although as part of my online Short Short Fiction workshop, our tutor Tania Hershman http://www.taniahershman.com/wp/ gave a different slant, saying that she essentially writes herself stories and the fact that anyone else might enjoy them still seems somewhat miraculous. This is a liberating departure from the constraints of writing towards a degree qualification, and gives me back a little freedom to think, and above all enjoy writing.
I move towards the end of the year feeling more balanced about my work. The high of having something published is addictive. Publication will always be my formal goal, but I think I have allowed myself to become distracted by the end result rather than the pleasure of the process, and of getting that fizz of feeling when I know I’ve written something good. I shall write myself poetry and flash fiction in the hope that someone else might enjoy them, rather than trying to meet a particular style or tone.
As ever, thank you all for reading, following and feeding back.* Your comments are so valuable, and help me feel I’m not just whispering to the sky. I’m embroiled in my next round of submissions over the coming month, so hopefully there will be good news come the new year.
*Extra special thanking to those of you who always like and share on social media. You make me feel good, because I know someone is reading, and make a difference to how many people see what I write.