“A writer is somebody for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people,”
- Thomas Mann
The other night I heard someone quote the above. Words relaid by the famous novelist prior to his death in 1955. It might be 62 years later, but his words were pretty good at relaxing me. Something usually only wine, a bubbling bath or a hot man’s hands are able to achieve.
As a creative person, I take comfort in the fact I am often allowed to attribute any neurosis, and (on rare occasions) psychosis, to the fact that I have an overactive imagination. Without it I couldn’t do the work I do - so what happens when writer’s block arrives? Do I simply become the crazy lady with no excuse for it? How can I call myself a writer when I can’t even write? Should I simply buy myself a bunch of cats, accept my fate and be done with it?
The mind boggles but, unfortunately for me, it hasn’t boggled over in the way of inspiration for quite some time. Until now. Today I’m back in my natural habitat; the pub. I’m typing away furiously as I try and get my thoughts out onto paper/the screen. And it feels really good. Maybe I can attribute this newfound purging ability to the words of a long gone dead man, but I think there might be a bit more to it than that. The person who quoted these words to me was none other than Guardian columnist Suzanne Moore, a woman with a career I would kill for (sorry, that’s the psychosis talking), who at the lecture I attended managed to ensure me that all this is normal. Sometimes it just helps to hear that you are in fact normal. Neurosis and psychosis aside.
At said lecture, as I was making notes, I made a point of underlining all the advice I felt struck a chord with me. Just now I looked them over; be aware that loving is much harder than hating; allow your ego to blend with insecurity; don’t be afraid to leave your comfort zone.
The middle point is most definitely an issue of mine. I hate to seem vulnerable, and most of what I truly feel passionate about, or want to write about, has the potential to render me exactly that. My pride is ridiculous but, if I’m not writing then I’m tripping up in my career, so I guess it makes sense when they say pride comes before a fall. The latter point, I think has probably always been my downfall. I’ve worked for years writing about fashion, interiors and general lifestyle topics - and I love it - but sometimes I’d like to go a bit deeper. (And no, for once I’m not referencing anything raunchy with the aforementioned hot man.)
I love the lighthearted things that I write about, but I also have strong opinions about topics not related to how long this season’s skirts should be. I was incensed when I first learnt that Trump wanted to take away a woman’s right to abortion. (I distinctly remember ringing my mum to rant at her about it at length, in lieu of a direct line to The White House.) I’m not American, but it genuinely frightened me. It was as if every huge leap we’d made for humankind, across gay rights, racial issues and women’s equality, had the potential to be erased. Something I’d, perhaps naively, never imagined possible. Sure, he’s just one man - but he’s supposed to be the leader of the free world. Similarly, one of the most memorable books I’ve ever read is ‘Princess’, the true story of a young female in the Arabian royal family. The way the men in that country treat women makes Trump look like my dream man.
It’s not so odd that I feel a pull to these subjects. My MA may be from London College of Fashion, but my BA was English and history with a large dose of politics. My brother often scolds me for playing up to a ditzy blonde persona. I don’t do it on purpose. I am actually a ditz; I can’t walk past something without walking into it, I giggle at inappropriate times and, yes, I admit to genuinely loving the colour pink. But I can also wax lyrical at length about representations of women in magazines since 1945. I almost murdered said brother last week during a debate about benefits in Britain, and I didn’t sleep the night we buggered up on Brexit.
So why don’t I write about these things? Well, perhaps as Suzanne Moore suggested, it’s down to a fear of people disagreeing with me, a fear of not being liked. Apparently this is normal for writers, but it’s a block we have to learn to bypass. Often in this blog I prefer to make people laugh, not start a topical debate, but surely I can do both? If beauty and the beast can fall madly in love, surely my ditzy blonde can co-exist with my inner geek?
Saving the trickiest till last, here we get to the first point, regarding how writing about what you love is supposedly harder than topics you hate. Personally, I haven’t found that in my own writing - yet. However when it comes to other areas of my life, such as romance, I know I find it much easier to expect the rough over the smooth. In my last post, Game of Love, I detailed how I was dating someone new, yet was still holding back a bit. I reasoned that perhaps it meant I was coming across serene and beguiling, like Daenerys Targaryen. I made light of it. Friends told me it was funny. But now I’m thinking, maybe not so much...
That isn’t even me. I’m much warmer than that. In truth I’m probably more like Tyrion. (Maybe not as pretty a comparison, but certainly much more immediately loveable.) I drink a lot of wine, say whatever comes into my head and ‘mishap’ might as well be my middle name, but my heart’s in the right place and I’ll do anything for the people I care about. I want the person I date to know that me. Same goes for my work. This point just made me realise that I don’t want to hold back on things, whether it’s kissing a boy or putting pen to paper. Bottom line - I want my writing to reflect the real me; happy or sad, opinionated or ambivalent.
I really just need to get my shit together. True story: a few months ago Bauer Media (one of the biggest British magazine publishing companies) contacted me after reading my blog. They said they loved my writing and invited me to pitch stories to them. Cue my being ridiculously excited. There was dancing. I had prosecco. But have I pitched yet? Nope. It’s true I’ve been busy, but I also know it’s more to do with the fact I’m absolutely bloody terrified. What if they don’t like my ideas? What if I never make it?
What if, what if, what if. If I keep on saying those two words, one day I’ll wake up old and wrinkly in my bed, crack open the wine at 7am, pop on my wig and plod around the house muttering, “Coulda, woulda, shoulda.” Or, maybe I'll try ignoring the fear and just get cracking, no matter what shape or form the words on the page may (at first) take. Just ask acclaimed writer and poet, Maya Angelou:
“What I try to do is write. I may write for two weeks ‘the cat sat on the mat, that is that, not a rat.’ And it might be just the most boring and awful stuff. But I try. When I’m writing, I write. And then it’s as if the muse is convinced that I’m serious and says, ‘Okay. Okay. I’ll come.’”
If that doesn’t work for me, then there is always option two: invite my real live hot man over to see if he’d like to meet the real me. And then he can help provide a little inspiration, if he should indeed so please....