“I used to be afraid about what people might say or think after reading what I had written. I am not afraid anymore, because when I write, I am not trying to prove anything to anyone, I am just expressing myself and my opinions. It’s ok if my opinions are different from those of the reader, each of us can have his own opinions. So, writing is like talking, if you are afraid of writing, you may end up being afraid of talking”
― Bangambiki Habyarimana, Pearls of Eternity
It’s odd isn’t it how we worry about what people are going to think about our writing?Will they find it puerile, boring or perhaps down right offensive? And yet people express their opinions verbally on a regular basis.
We download what we are thinking on Facebook with total impunity, almost hoping our comments will create a stir, a buzz, that we will get 1000’s of like, and many more hits of our blog.
Yet as soon as a writer embarks on writing a novel, suddenly we have these moments of excruciating dread. What will people say? What will they think? Will they buy the book, will it get good reviews? The list is endless.
This happened to me this weekend, with my book Dark side of the Hill. Since being taken on by my Literary Agent. Nothing had stopped me in my resolve to write this book. And the enforced lockdown and self isolation that the corona pandemic had created was working in my favour.
I had spent the Easter Break totally immersed in writing. And at no point did I feel that I was not writing anything worthwhile. I was pleased with most of the work. And I had assumed that this weekend would be the same.
With the country, no the world being in lock down and self-isolation I had no excuses for not putting more words to the page. I had left my previous successful endeavours, halfway through a paragraph knowing exactly where I was heading.
So why suddenly did I flounder? Like a fish left by the tide on the beach. Flapping his tail and gasping for water. I can only say in retrospect I had a crisis of confidence.
I am renowned for speaking my mind. I do try not to, but the words have an annoying habit of coming out of my mouth in an order least expected. Its only when I look at the face of the person or persons I am speaking to that I suddenly realise – Whoops I did it again.
I am sure every writer has these moments. Or perhaps they don’t. Moments of self-doubt when you suddenly think. I am not up to the job. I am not good enough. But like Bangambiki says. Writing is like talking. And we all like to talk.
What ever started my writers block I cannot say, but what I can say is what ended it. A friend had messaged me on Linked- in saying she admired my self-belief in what I was doing. That I was being so positive about the fact I could write a novel, get my novel published and succeed as a writer. She was so looking forward to reading it when it comes out.
And that is what it takes ultimately, self-belief. And self-belief is not the same as arrogance. Arrogance is where you write believing that what you have written is beyond correction or any criticism. Where you don’t even think who will read this. Will they enjoy it? Where you write without even being interested in whether you touched some one’s soul with your words. That you made a difference in the way they viewed the world whilst reading your book.
Self-belief is the knowledge that despite a few trips over your own untied shoelaces you can achieve your end result. A book that people will want to read and that they will enjoy and want to encourage others to read. That your writing has given pleasure for someone to read. Or in my case that it has scared someone enough for them to think twice before switching the light out after reading it.
So, my temporary lapse of confidence has gone until the next time. I have a job to do. There are people out there waiting to read this book.
I am not afraid. I can talk and so there is absolutely no reason why I can’t write. So, with this in mind, I imagine the scene, the next victim for my serial killer. And when if ever will they get caught? Or will this book run into a sequel? Yes, I think it will. I have enough words in my head. Enough opinions, that fortunately I have not expressed verbally that I can put on a blank page and use.
For that is the fun part. I can create characters that will annoy with the words I have written. I have created characters that my readers will love, hate, or hopefully be on their side by the end, no matter what they have been doing.
My opinions (even more annoying for some) will be immortalised in print. Can you talk the talk? Yes, but more importantly I can walk the walk.
So back at the desk, metaphorical quill in hand I continue. With murder on my mind.