when I wake very early, lie in the dark without rising, and ask myself why I do this mad thing – write words that at best a scattering of people will ever read, words that I often spend hours and hours searching for and mostly discarding, words that I care about as deeply as if they were alive and more deeply than most things that are alive, and most people. Am I much different than my grandmother – my father’s mother – who spent years in an asylum talking to people who didn’t exist? Or am I just clever enough – or fortunate enough – to hide it better under the guise of fiction?
I remind myself that I’m in good company. Countless words have been written that are now unread. And nearly all of those that are being written at this very moment will soon be ignored too, or forgotten. It’s not much consolation. But what consolation was there for my grandmother, whose imaginary people were just as real to her as my fictional characters are to me? I wish I had listened to her when I was young, instead of being ashamed of having a crazy in the family.
And yet I can’t assume that she was lonely. Fiction makes very good company.
6 thoughts on “And then there are the mornings”
Personally I think it’s a blessing that most of what I write is not read by anyone. For every jewel of a moment on the screen or pages, there has to be hours of rubbish on the cutting room floor. Just like for every 10 second hundred metres, there has to be weeks of plodding around in the rain with weights on. the experience of writing, or of being an athlete, is mostly that of slogging out loads of rubbish, in the hope that if you write enough of it, something will be worth saving.
Thanks, Debi. For you and yours too.
I do think many of us write because we can’t conceive of a life without it. If this is madness, I would certainly never choose sanity!
Hope 2007 will be a good year for you.
Clare, I think I’ve said this before, but for me, at least, happiness doesn’t much come into it.
Minx, I agree about the audience, which is probably part of the problem with my so-called YA readers.
I will echo Clare. I don’t think you can write at all if you already have an audience in mind. I write for myself, what I like, what I hear in my head. Don’t think I’m any different from your grandmother either – I often talk to people who ain’t there!
Well I am reading your words, L – and I know other people read your words too…and some of them lurk in my mind long after I’ve read them so that is something. But I think we mainly write for ourselves because it makes us feel happy.