“I write only when inspiration strikes.” he replied.
“Fortunately it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp.”
I think, until recently, I just assumed that natural writers always had something to say—that they were chock full to the brim with stories, characters and plots, and that the words just spilled out of them and onto the page. Then, surely, it was just a simple matter of rearranging the words on the paper in the right order to ensure that the reader got the general gist of it all. (I can already feel pencils sharpened to lethal points being sent airborne in my general direction—by those who still use pencils of course …)
But wait—I say ‘recently’ because I have been reading up on the subject, and it seems that this is just not the case. At all. It appears that for many of our most esteemed authors (and plenty of our not-so-esteemed) writing is (or was) a real, desperate and constant struggle. (‘No pen, no ink, no table, no room, no time, no quiet, no inclination.’ James Joyce.) Well, thank God for that. What a relief.
Writing does not come easily to me. Up until now I have only ever written short pieces for the local community college brochure—and that only comes out once every 3 months. If I had any sense (and I obviously don’t) I would have at least attempted to write something during the in-between months so I might have had the possibility of several articles to choose from when the time came for the next publication. Of course that didn’t happen and I would find myself with the brochure two days away from going to print and me having written not a word and not one idea in my head. Well—to be fair, I probably did have a couple of ideas, but there are only so many stories you can tell about your dogs before people (at least those oddly strange non-doggie people that you still find lurking about the place) get fed up with you and go elsewhere.
So as the next deadline loomed I would spend days wandering about muttering to myself, ‘Well I guess I could write about . . . or maybe I could do something on . . . well, no, that’s not really going to work, but perhaps . . . ’ until I drove the people around me mad enough to start offering me their own opinions on what I should write about in the fervent hope that I’d just go away and do it. Eventually I would decide on an idea, sit down and get myself all organised—because, of course, everything had to be organised (computer all charged up, seat just right, cushion behind the back, wine glass within reach). I’d sit deep in thought (honest) for a little while—and then—perhaps I should just go and put those drops in Mabel’s ear before I forget . . . and did I remember to fill up the bird-feeder this morning? Maybe I’ll just go and put another load of washing on before I start. Procrastinate? Me? I learned from the best. (‘Never put off till tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.’ Mark Twain)
And when all these must-do-now jobs had been done and I couldn’t put it off any longer, I would settle myself down to start again and—nothing. Nada. Except—what on earth was I thinking? Why would I want to write about that? Worse still, why would anyone want to read it? Square one.
So, knowing that this always happens, what do I do? I start a blog. Am I stark-raving mad? Here I am only a couple of weeks in and I am already babbling about having no idea what to write about. I’m feeling the pressure.
Do you know, in the short time I have been doing this I have already had spam comments telling me that my blog is ‘lacking fresh content’ and that if I am ‘too lazy to add to it regularly’ I should go to http://www.something-something-something.com to get more interesting input. Rude! Now I know in my head that this is just a marketing ploy to get more hits on these other sites but $&(*%! The ‘lazy’ part stings. Especially as I seem to have been at least thinking about writing (if not actually writing) almost full time lately. I was quite ‘miffed’. However, after a few choice words and a very good grumble I thoroughly enjoyed the delete—delete—delete of my spam file that followed.
So you may be pleased (or perhaps even horrified) to learn that I have started a ‘Blog Book’ in which I am jotting down notes about things that have piqued my interest and that may, or may not, turn into something worth writing about. (Today on the telly I saw a bit about ‘Sky Running’. Heard of it? Me either. My first thought was that these people were, quite obviously and without a doubt, all absolutely bonkers, but the more I watched the more interested I became. Not going to try it of course. Never. Not ever. But I digress . . . )
And there you have it. This is what you are going to get when I can think of nothing else to say. You are fair warned. This blog experiment of mine could go absolutely nowhere—or it could go all over the place (which, I must admit, does sound a lot more fun).
I am practising my ‘mini-habit’ of writing at least a couple of sentences a day in the hope that I will be able to string those sentences together into something coherent and interesting enough for you to read, but if all else fails, I think I can absolutely promise you one thing—there will definitely be more doggie tales . . .