a beginning

I love English.

I love it with the passion of a race who have transformed it from an instrument of oppression into a tool of expression.

I love its roots in Anglo-Saxon; those meaty, sturdy bones upon which are wrapped layers of Romance muscle and grafted skin.

I love its vast vocabulary; the nuances that can be achieved via word selection, and placement, and its ability to ingest influences, digest them, and reform its external appearance.

English is a living tongue – perhaps with a dangerous appetite for domination (built into it from its inception) – but I never complain about its changing state. It it an essential component of the language, and one which I embrace.

My greatest frustration is my struggle to become more adept at writing in English. I have always aspired to be a writer, but I have gone through periods when I doubted and ignored this desire as a wishful fantasy of someone who needed to grow up and accept the reality of my place in the world. I worry about other people’s opinions – especially those I admire or trust – when I state baldly I aspire to be a better writer. I imagine them saying, “Who the fuck does she think she’s kidding?”, but then I remember that’s just in my head. And I realise that even if they said that to my face I would still write.

For me, writing can be a battle. I fight against my insecurities about my ability, while holding off the double-headed monster of apathy and prevarication. I admire those who produce thousands of words on a daily basis; carefully clocking their word count until it achieves set goals.

I’ve realised that I cannot write like this. (This goes to the heart of one of my problems: trying to force my methods to adapt to what is received wisdom. Now, I’ve learned to take advice, test it, and discard it if it does not work for me.) Not to say that I don’t have any discipline, but I’ve learned how to court my muse, with delicate sweetmeats and titbits, until I can tempt her to lay her hand upon my shoulder and whisper in my ear. Now, she is never far.

Sometimes she demands rare treats that take longer to produce, but she has grown fond of me and occasionally she indulges me.

I’ve learned how to work even if she’s absent; falling upon dedication and patience to keep me going when she is difficult or fickle. I have tried to take the need out of our relationship, and to realise that I can write when I’m not inspired. Usually, that will invite her back, because all acts of creation are her domain.

Despite the frustration, I love to write. It is the way to release the pressure in my head of the characters, ideas, and obsessions that demand freedom. It is a way to articulate my thoughts, to bring an order to a mass of concepts over which I mull all the time.

This is the reason for this blog: it’s not meant to be the self-indulgent wank of someone who would rather discuss the craft than actually practise it. Often I need to write about writing in order to learn. It gives shape and texture to my theories. Materialising my thoughts is an aid towards realisation and actualisation.

If anyone else finds my thoughts on writing useful that’s a bonus; but it is not the main purpose of this journal.

Learning to write is an intimate and personal journey that does not make sense to everyone. My highways and boreens may appear too rigid or time-wasting to others. I do not expect, or want, the readers of this journal to experience writing in the same fashion I do. It is not about validation; it is about craft.

I’m here to become a better writer; despite my fears, anxieties, and doubts, and to champion my joy, passion, and love of the act of creation that brings me closest to who I am at my very core: a writer (no matter how scary it is for me to make that statement).

Perhaps I’m not the best or the most impressive, but I’m working on it.

One Comment

  • sinead

    Being an artist means: not numbering and counting, but ripening like a tree, which doesn’t force its sap, and stands confidently in the storms of spring, not afraid that afterwards summer may not comeRainer Maria Rilke