April 15, 2010

That secret club

In front of me pinned to my cork board on a scrappy piece of paper is a quote..

"Don't waste your time on the obvious things. Write about what disturbs you, particularly if it bothers no one else".

Well what disturbs me is this firm grasp on the phrase....."well I'm a writer" as though it's a secret club that requires a membership card or perhaps a secret handshake and a nod of the head.

I believe everyone has talent. Some have had the time to hone it while others have disjointed ideas, written in journals or on yellow, lined legal pads stuffed into drawers or under the bed.

My lovely friend Tania of Backwards In High Heels fame wrote a lovely series about writing last year. She was teaching a 5 day writing course at the time as part of the Aboyne Arts Festival and was extremely kind to transcribe it onto her blog. This is Day One of the written version. There are five days in all and by the time you finish reading, if you have a yearning to write, you will be brimming with ideas and new found excitement.

This is the opening paragraph of her writing series....

"The Fear takes many forms. The most profound is the secret, crippling conviction that you are not allowed to be a writer unless you have certain qualifications. You must be born in the right place, to the right parents, with the right education. You must also have a specific God-given talent, a feeling for words, the equivalent of a musical ear. The other form of the Fear is an internalised memory, of teachers mostly, telling you that no, no, it is not done that way, and if you do not do it in the correctly prescribed way you will never amount to anything. There are rules, there are criteria, there are things that people expect. All of this is nonsense. I cannot stress this enough. I will say it again: all of this is nonsense. The point about writing is that if you are willing to work hard enough, to listen closely to your own voice, to push past the terror, you will be able to do it. I’m not saying it will be easy. All good writers know that writing is hard. Bad writing is a simple matter, you just have to put your fingers on the keyboard and go. Serious writing, and writing is serious, is difficult. But if you put in the time, it is not beyond your reach".

What struck me was the generous way in which she wants to lead anyone who's scared, to feel comfortable in revealing themselves as a writer and to come along for the ride. She demystifies the angst and terror of rejection, the "oh you're not a writer". I read and digested the entire series as I am secretly, that person. I don't have the time to hone my skills as the other side of my brain has a death grip on my focus running my company, reading other people's scripts, books, plays, TV pilots or 10 page "can-you-help-me" letters.

I'm a writer because I write just as trillions of others do - am I a good writer - I don't think so but I have the passion and the desire to learn how to be. I'm constantly surrounded by people who aren't shy to profess "well I'm a writer" - they are the ones in that "secret writers club" where they feel you do need to be born in the right place, on the right day when the light is just right. What defines a writer?


corine said...

Do other creative forms call for so much self-doubt? To this day I still have trouble qualifying myself as a writer. I feel like I'm not entitled. We writers (here, i dared called you and I writers) put way too much thinking into everything.. and that's what makes us writers.

Tania Kindersley said...

AMAZING piece of serendipity. I have just mentioned you on today's blog; came over here to get the link, and there was your new post, with such a very kind mention of me in it. Enchanting compliment, thank you. I feel very touched and rather humble. xx

So Lovely said...

Corine: Completely agree. I am always fascinated to read about writers who have published book who say that it has taken them 15 years to write their book. xx

Tania: When you have your next writing series I will fly to Scotland. Thank you again - we were all given an extensive writing course for free. xx

shayma said...

passion is what makes someone a writer- which is what you have. x shayma

La Belette Rouge said...

What a fantastic post. I am a big believer that if I am not a little scared then I am not writing. I have come to embrace the fear and even court it a little.

mothership said...

Lovely, brave post. And you ARE a writer. You are a writer because you write.
I don't think it's really got very much to do with how many people read what you have to say - that's something that happens after the real work which is THE WRITING, and it's the writing that makes you a writer.
As for those who need to tell everyone that they are 'real writers' all the time, they must be feeling even more insecure and threatened than those of us quietly getting on with it.
And also, would like to say to Corine, that I think that yes, all creative forms conjure self doubt. Had great difficulty calling myself a musician when I first started. I did finally have some success and it was only then that I realised I had always been a singer, songwriter and composer and was able to feel proud of the garrett years.
Charlie Circus, this was a beauty. Thank you xo

So Lovely said...

Shayma: thank you my lovely. It may also be out mutual love of Italy. xx

LBR: I like to be a little scared too and am not afraid to admit it. Its also something that I will never fully conquer which is good for the "being completely in control all the time" side of me. xx

MTFF: Thank you - you are very wise and completely correct. I must admit that I do tend to walk slowly backwards when people start saying loudly..."I'm a writer, I'm writing a book".

Tania Kindersley said...

Thought of you today, as a delightful horse called So Lovely just trotted up at 9-1 in the last great two mile chase of the season at Sandown. (I rang up my mother and said there's this nice improving horse, and of course then did not have a penny on.) Still, you can imagine thousands of people in the English sunshine shouting 'Come on, So Lovely'. xx

Liberty London Girl said...

I struggled for YEARS to believe I WAS a writer, rather than an impostor in the world of words. It's ludicrous how much we cripple ourselves.