Is it ever possible for a writer to be happy with what they’ve achieved? Or do the goalposts keep moving? Today we ask a most un-Christmassy question… is it much harder to succeed when you’re a success?
On what felt like the first and long-awaited spring day of the year, I think about how the things we do in this season could also be applied to fiction that’s been in hibernation for any period of time.
(And if anyone dares to make a comment about how writing a blog post about something instead of actually doing it is the ultimate procrastination, I will sic Tark and Mara on you.)
We all have something in common. We were once terrible writers. Perhaps you’re a terrible writer now. Perhaps you’ve never even tried. Perhaps you were a terrible writer last week, but have been something approaching genius since last Thursday. Most of us never find out. We should, though, because there’s a lot of value in bad writing.
Ten years ago, we had woefully little to get truly offended about. There was little pleasure to be had in face-to-face confrontation, given its general ickiness and constant threat of physical violence. But now we have LOADS to get offended about, every day of the week! Whoever says that things aren’t better nowadays obviously just doesn’t have enough friends online.
We can’t get enough of these modern historical TV dramas! Such feisty heroines! Such swashbuckling storylines! Such bosoms! Seriously, there are bosoms everywhere! Wouldn’t it be fabulous to have such excitement in real life?
But hold on a second… what would this mean for your olfactory well-being? Your ultra-modern duplex? Your HONOUR?
We’re told that by far the best training for writers is reading. But what happens when what you’re reading is being a big bully? Tempting you with sweet nothings? Calling you names? Interfering with your confidence and ability to write? I have a conversation with an unbearably smug book to explore the concept, and discover something nasty.
Romantic heroes. Sigh. All that tortured power in a designer shirt. So much angst and wealth. So little practicality, and mental health. Because they’ve been hurt before – y’know? But you would never do that. It’s different with you.
But what really happens after ‘The End’? When dietary fibre and la vie quotidienne get in the way? What would it really be like to LIVE with a tortured romantic hero?
Where did pieces of glorious human creativity go, before the internet? Where were the cat pictures, the listicles and the punny prose, before they appeared on our Facebook news feeds? The internet has had a lot to do with the way we consume our entertainment – but it’s done even more for how we produce it.
There are certain classic novels which we all know, because they’re still widely read today. But what would they look like if they were being published for the first time this year? Would Jane Eyre fit the Domestic Noir genre profile? Would the numerous plot strands of Bleak House be dumbed down? Who would supply the perfect cover quote for Robinson Crusoe? And who would dare to pigeon hole Ulysses? I would, that’s who.
Being a book reviewer is a tough gig, which is why I’m glad don’t do reviews on this blog. But because I spend so much time shouting and roaring all over the interweb about booky stuff, people often ask me for recommendations. It never ends well. Once it ended up in tears, recriminations, and a mud-wrestling pit. Who knew bookish types were so volatile? Well, actual book reviewers, for a start. And they’ve known for a while.