Has anyone ever thought about the things they are good at and been truly glad for it? Like running fast or unfailingly burning toast; sketching comics or creating a world of words. I never really had a moment like that even after so many years of writing. In fact, it was only recently that I started to realise I wanted to be a writer; a dedicated writer, not the whimsical hobbyist I started off as. I can’t say that’s going spectacularly right now, but the new resolve sure makes me feel better!
I was listening to the radio the other day and a pop tune was playing. Now, I have to admit that I’m not a fan of the hot hits on the airwaves these days. Pretty much most music older than me would hold my ear better. So you might say that I might not have had this light bulb moment if ABBA had been playing instead. What I thought was: Gee, it takes a lot less effort to sing a popular song than to write a novel.
Then I scowled at myself because I hate catching myself being judgmental. My dad gave me a pretty funny look.
I righted the thought. All forms of art require effort and time, and deserve respect, whether it’s an abstract spatter of paint or the Mona Lisa. Sure, some products might take less time than others, and some may be more acknowledged than others, but if there’s one thing they have in common, it’s that the people who made them tried to put a little bit of themselves into the process. At least, that’s what I like to think.
Writing a song, practicing it and getting it recorded takes more time and money than radio-listeners appreciate. A single piece of paper with a simple landscape drawn in oil pastels might have taken half the time you expect, but twice the years of experience to get right. Then there’s the actors and actresses, magicians, comedians, etc. No one gets to snap their fingers and have results appear out of sheer friction.
But damn, writing a novel can take a very long time!
And then I realised: I’m actually glad that it does. For the first time in my life, I realised that I was grateful to be a writer rather than another type of creative artist. I knew I was in the right place.
Again, I admit the pop song pumping beats about partying all night and one night stands probably glorified my epiphany. It’s obvious work had to go in to produce such a song and it’s popular for that reason. What I was glad to realise was that to write something, anything, I had to dig so much deeper into myself than I would writing a pop song. The moment I decided to write a novel (more like a series but let’s use euphemisms at this stage), I committed myself to a schedule of headaches and heartaches and feeling like an unproductive slop of radioactive goo. Even if the words I write are utter garbage, I’m still writing them one by one, so slowly. It’s something I’ll be doing for a while, something that doesn’t really have a shortcut. I’m not a fast writer so this pet project could very well take me a decade. And I may not even truly accomplish it.
But I’m still grateful to be a writer, grateful to have something I love and can actually do. Because every spark of creativity is a climb and the longer it takes, the more you see yourself reflected in the final product.
Call me crazy but I write to see myself on the page. I want to see the world through the eyes of a character I brought to life on a plain white page, and breathe in words I wrote one by one. I reckon it’ll be worth it. Just maybe.