A Portal To The Underworld
Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life as well. It’s about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy. …this book…is a permission slip: you can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will. Writing is magic, as much the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free. So drink.
Drink and be filled up.
― Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
Wise words from a master craftsman.
This apprentice is keeping them in mind as he stumbles into the next stage of his own writing journey.
When I wrote ‘A Foolish Voyage’ I found that I met most resistance towards the end. I’d written about the good times, the adventures, the excitement. But then I had to write about the bad stuff. It wasn’t easy.
It felt like I was taking a scalpel and cutting through my own scar tissue. Making surgical incisions to show the world what lay beneath.
Truth be told it was more than ‘resistance’ I felt. It was fear. Fear of harming myself, fear of making myself vulnerable, fear of more pain. Perhaps my greatest fear though was fear of appearing weak, of feeling less of a man.
Men of my generation were conditioned to think that emotions were not for public display. Keeping a ‘stiff upper lip’ was expected. Part of my grammar school education comprised learning not to flinch or cry when subjected to the sadistic and vicious violence of so called ‘teachers’ or playground bullies.
But masking physical pain is one thing. Masking deep emotional pain is entirely different. It’s dangerous.
My generation were taught that men who cried were either spineless or homosexual (gay still meant happy and carefree back then).
We know better now.
Just the other day I saw the most powerful man in the world with tears in his eyes. His emotion there for the whole world to see. I know he’s not gay and I know he’s not spineless. He’s a man to look up to.
If a man can demonstrate that he’s in touch with his own emotions we feel connection. It reinforces our humanity. We are not machines or Vulcans.
So why is this so important right now?
Because I’m going through it all again.
In the story I’m writing now all the bad stuff comes first. Every morning this week lifting the lid of my laptop has been like opening a portal to the underworld.
It’s a world of my own creation. It holds demons that can still hurt me and a graveyard where I buried people who are still alive. I’ve had to dig them up and look in their faces again. Parts of me are buried there too. They’re rotten and putrid and I’d much rather have left them hidden. It feels like purgatory.
I’m glad it’s still dark when I write, no one can see the tears in my eyes. Yet here I am, admitting their existence.
Because it’s who I am.
“If you don’t want anyone to know anything about you, don’t write anything.”
― Pete Townshend
It’s testing, its difficult and it’s painful. So why do it?
Back to the words of Mr King.
“In the end it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work………..
Enriching a persons life is a fine goal but I want to do more than that.
I want my next book to give hope. I want it to give strength and comfort to others who find themselves where I once was. Suffering as I did.
It might even save someones life.
Am I delusional? Guys like me don’t write books like that.
But I need that level of motivation to keep going, to make it worth doing the work.
The first draft of ‘A Foolish Odyssey’ is now up to 12,000 words. I’ve just started to see the sunshine again. The writing will get easier now.
It needs to. I’m aiming for 100,000 words so I’ve got to pick up the pace.
I don’t touch type but I’m quite a fast two-fingered hunt and pecker. I can manage 1000 words per hour so that’s about 16wpm. I’m not sure I could go much faster anyway. I have to think what to write before hitting the keys.
I’ll be putting in more hours from now on.
It’s been a strange week. A day with visitors, some crazy weather, a lack of energy.
It would have been easy to get disheartened. To feel that I should have done more.
But here’s the thing. Compared to a week ago I’m a better writer, I can run farther and I know more Spanish.
I’m making progress.
It was a lesson I learned building ‘Gleda’.
There will be days and weeks when the work comes hard.
There will be others when you’ll fly through it.
Either way you can only do what you can do.