Becky says things about … being a writer, dammit

Before I say anything new, most beautiful listeners, I want to say a heartfelt thank you for your wonderful comments following my post on the rubbishness of eating disorders. I have been overwhelmed, delighted, moved to tears, and inspired by the things you’ve said, and Stickman will now demonstrate my thanks through the medium of an interpretive dance.

writing1

Rather avant garde, Stickman, but I’m sure they got the message.

Anyway, moving on.

I have decided, most darling Listener, to get off my arse. Figuratively, metaphorically, emotionally, mentally, creatively. Particularly the last one.

You see, I have been languishing on my arse for many, many years.

I want to be a writer.

I have wanted to be a writer since my mum stapled printer paper together, drew ruler lines on it, and encouraged me to write stories. My first book, written at the age of six, was the hit bestseller The Girl Who Would Not Go To Bed. This thrilling tale of a child’s rebellion against the rules enforced on her by society, received glowing reviews from my parents, and several of my teddy bears.

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I haven’t been totally pathetic in my endeavours to become a published writer. I am a published writer: I have a very tiny book of short stories published. I have two degrees in creative writing. I have a hard drive which is almost obese with stories, scripts, random splurges of writing and strange thoughts. But the thing that slouches like an overweight, slightly perspiring figure, waiting for someone to haul it out of its armchair and make it do some much-needed exercise, is my novel.

I came up with the idea for this novel seven years ago. I have been sporadically writing it for three, and it is progressing slower than an arthritic snail carrying heavy shopping. Why? Because I am a serial procrastinator, a daydreamer, a believer that my book will appear on bookshelves by merely thinking about it. And if all my thoughts became reality, heaven knows what else might occur.

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If you ever write anything, you will understand. Whether you take it seriously or not, whether you do it for a living or just want to paddle in the creative pond for shits and giggles (an excellent metaphor, and one for which I can almost definitely thank my two degrees), you will know that writing is superb. It’s fun, it’s rewarding, it’s absorbing, it’s almost magical: fully-formed human characters can somehow crawl out of your head onto the page and do stuff you didn’t even think you knew about; worlds can appear, events can occur that make you laugh, cry, or phone a psychologist.

writer1

But if you know any of the above, you will also know that writing is a royal pain in the arse.

I mean, it really is a nightmare. Of all the hobbies and professions known to Mankind, nothing has generated a more dedicated breed of procrastinators, time-wasters and excuse-makers than writing. Writers will do anything to get out of the one thing they should be doing.

writer2

Why is this? Is it because they’re scared of hard work? Is it because they are terrified of the blank page? Is it because a writer can plough away for hours, days, weeks, on a piece of writing, to emerge sweaty, exhausted, potentially bloodied, and realise with the crushing certainty akin to imminent death by falling anvil that every single word is a seeping, pus-filled, hopeless, repugnant pile of shit?

writer5

For me, the answer to all of the above is YES, YES, AND THRICE YES.

All those things are genuine, tragic fears. That terrible, niggling worry that you are wasting your time, that you would be more productive trying to breed a haddock with a gorilla.

And it is those fears that have kept me rooted firmly on my arse for so many years. I have made a total of about £100 from my writing in my whole 28 and a half years (that half-year really sticks the knife in, doesn’t it?). Now that might be £100 more than some other people, but the point is I want to make a living from writing. I want to get on a train and see someone absorbed in my book. I want to hear people discussing it in cafes. I want bookshop employees to roll their eyes and moan ‘I’m so f***ing bored with this book’ when they open yet another box of my bestselling novel to stack onto the shelves.

writer4

And none of that is ever going to happen if I continue to sit here and just think about it. If I continue to wander around listening to tracks on my iPod thinking ‘Wow, that would be an excellent track to play over the trailer of my bestselling novel-turned-blockbuster-movie’, if I continue to spend all my time daydreaming about glowing reviews in The Times and seeing my name on shortlists for coveted accolades, if I continue to basically do nothing, then my eventual result can best be illustrated by asking my friend, Mr Jack Shit, to simply stand here and look at you.

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Not a lot happened there, did it?

I will now ask my friend Stickman (who will quickly and imperceptibly change out of his Mr Jack Shit costume and back into his regular clothes) to illustrate what I should be doing:

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A veritable flurry of activity. Thank you Stickman.

So I’m going to do it. I’m going to get off my arse and write my bloody novel and become the writer I bloody well should be.

And you know what? You dudes have a lot to do with this sudden burst of let’s-get-the-heck-on-with-my-writing-life. You tell me I am good at writing, that I should keep doing it. Well, I’ve listened. And I’m unfathomably glad that I have, and I’m unfathomably grateful to you all for your encouragement and your lovely words. You faceless people around the globe, who could be serial killers or politicians for all I know, have helped me get off my arse. And for that I am eternally grateful.

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Looks like you’re wearing some kind of erotic burlesque corset there Stickman, but hopefully the sentiment will prevail.

So, writers of the world, WRITE!! If you have no problem with procrastinating, and are one of those terribly infuriating inspiring writers who rise at 5am, write for 4 hours, and then go to your day job a healthy, happy and productive writer – WELL DONE! Keep it up! If you are one of those procrastinators who would rather dissect the bowel of your own grandmother than sit down and open Microsoft Word – here is a little flash of inspiration that sparked inside my brain a few months ago (probably while I was dissecting my grandmother’s bowel), and which I now have cellotaped to my bedroom wall:

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78 Comments

Filed under Life eh?, The Beauty of Life, Thoughts and Musings

78 responses to “Becky says things about … being a writer, dammit

  1. nikireagan

    I’m more of a hand-writer myself, but I too have notebooks full of scripts and stories and a half-finished blog project that became too overwhelming when GRAD SCHOOL (DUN DUN DUUUUN) started. I’ve written two and three-quarters of a manuscript and have been too afraid to do anything with them. I’ve been writing since I “found out crayon made a mark on paper,” (thanks Grammy) and yet only have articles and published.
    In my University’s magazine.
    Sigh.
    I want to do National Novel Writing Month again. How about you?

    • DO NOT BE AFRAID!! If all writers were afraid there would be NOTHING TO READ!! And there is no shame in writing for a University magazine – I did that, amidst daydreams that I’d become a campus legend, a sort of Stephen Fry of students. I didn’t. I was rather disappointed. But I still enjoyed it 🙂
      I have always been terrified of National Novel Writing Month… is it coming up? Bloody hell, I might just ruddy do it…. Thank you for reminding me of it! This could be exactly what I need!
      LET’S DO IT!!!!!
      Thanks for reading, and KEEP WRITING! 🙂

  2. Interpretive dance by Stickman, glowing reviews from teddy bears, two degrees in the creative pond for shit and giggles, and one hundred British English pounds Sterling. The woman’s a genius. More! More! More!

    • Well, I can’t take credit for Stickman’s lovely interpretive dance – that was all his idea (apparently his sticky limbs just ‘move from the heart’, so he says) – but I can take credit for the rest, gladly 😉
      Thank you for reading and for your lovely comment! 🙂

  3. I loved this post. You are terrific!!! We writers are sluggish and we do procrastinate a lot and dream as well…But, seriously, your novel’s gonna be one big success. Please get over with it soon. I want to read it before I die! Good Luck 😉

  4. I don’t like this post, I love it. And just so you’re sure, you are a FANTASTIC writer. I’m not fibbing when I say this blog is one of my favourites. So yes, you are a writer already, but if you want to write a novel you can do that too. (Hell, I’m about to finish a publishing postgrad – I’ll publish it!) Having an idea is half the battle. Go for it!

    – Lauren

  5. indacampo

    I don’t see the word “neurotic” to describe writers anywhere in this post. Methinks you need to work it in there somewhere dear Becky. 🙂

    Lovely writing once again. You go girl!

  6. I enjoy writing but won’t dare call myself a writer. You and stickman stick to it and I know you’ll pull something great from that arse you’ve been sitting on for so long! Good luck!

  7. As a fellow procrastinator I appreciate your difficulties. Your blog is brilliantly written so I’ve no doubt your novel will be also – good luck!

  8. Carry on…and sparkle…! (I read that “sparkle” bit on a bumper sticker…or maybe it was a loo cubicle…what. ever.)

  9. amb

    Dear Becky, (and Stickman too, of course)

    Please consider my “like” of this post to be the virtual equivalent of my jumping up and down and cheering wildly:

    YOU CAN DO IT GO KEEP WRITING GO GO WRITE I KNOW YOU CAN DO IT YOU’RE SO GOOD AT DOING ALL THE THINGS WITH THE WORDS !!!!!

    Seriously. Your novel will be amazing. I’m so excited for you to take this on. Such good luck!!

    Love, amb

  10. Becky!! I love this post so so so much I might just marry it. I laughed uncontrollably at the maggot infested dog anus ‘YES’ (I’ve been there too) and tearfully read your final words of encouragement. You will succeed and you have inspired me today. Good luck chuck!!

    • My post accepts your semi-proposal, but I warn you, Stickman will want to get involved as well, and he’s not an easy stick to live with. Trust me.
      Glad you’ve been inspired – let us go forth and WRITE!! 🙂

  11. You have inspired me to write.
    But first I must dig maggots out of this squirrel’s carcass and I will be all set.

  12. Go you! It’s just sooooooo easy to procrastinate. Good luck. I hope that soon we’ll get to read a post saying you’ve finished/published your first novel. 😀

  13. This is just so wonderfully clever and funny I may have to be filled with jealousy. Or there again it could just be a fur ball.

    Loved it, becky … 😀

  14. Whooo hooo Becky! If that novel is anything like the wonderful writing on your blog, I’ll take 10 on pre-order please! 🙂

    Seriously, you’re a great writer and I can’t wait to read whatever you put out next, whether it’s a novel, a comic book, or the backside of a box of cereal!

  15. I feel ya. I have no problem writing blog posts and short fiction, but the N-O-V-E-L word is scary. I have one I’ve been working on for nearly a decade. And by working on, I mean totally ignoring.

    • Haha, I know what you mean! ‘I’m writing a novel’ often means ‘I’ve written down some words on a Microsoft Word document and I spend quite a lot of time thinking about how they could turn into a novel, but I spend more time on YouTube and eating biscuits.’
      It’s a stressful life 😉

  16. Do it. Doitdoitdoitdoitdoitdoitdoitdoit. I actually just ordered your book from Amazon. That was rather impulsive, because I’m so broke that dumpster diving has become rather a necessity than a statement to me, and I have so many books piled up for my thesis that I could sit on them and dangle my feet amongst clouds and geese swarms. But. your. writing. is. awesome. So awesome that I can’t say you inspire me to write. You inspire me to stop dreaming and get back to work on my thesis, because as long as people like you haven’t gotten published yet, I should prrrrobably play it safe and finish my degree 🙂

    • Oh my God, I can’t believe you ordered my book! Thank you so much! It’s very different to my blog writing so I hope you enjoy it! 🙂
      I can’t thank you enough for doing that and for your lovely words. I’m so glad my post inspired you – GET BACK TO WORK, FINISH YOUR DEGREE, AND WRITE!!!!
      Very best of luck – BELIEVE IN DREAMS!! 🙂

      • I read it! And I loved it! Please keep on writing. I have no street cred as a literature critic, but the fact that I read your book in one go after reading psychology papers all day must mean something! I haven’t managed to finish “To kill a mockingbird” over the past monthS, because I’m so tired of reading all day for my courses that I can’t be bothered with literature in the evening- and I love that book!!!

        • Oh BLESS you and everything that you stand for! I can’t tell you how appreciative I am! And after reading psychology papers all day???!!! You are HARDCORE, my friend!
          To Kill A Mockingbird is one of my favourite books!
          Thank you so much, you’re officially my new favourite person 🙂
          And good luck with the psychology! x

  17. AH!! I know EXACTLY What you mean. Every time I hit “publish” on a blog post, I freak out just a little bit until one solitary person comments or tells me they liked it or “likes” it on Facebook. But before that little bit of validation, I suck my breath in and turn blue. Writing is scary because it’s putting yourself out there. It is like laying your heart out on paper and hoping that people embrace it and don’t stomp on it. IT IS SCARY!! I do the same thing- procrastinate. I don’t want to put my whole heart and soul and time and did I mention heart and soul into something, only to find out I SUCK? Of course not. But sitting around doing nothing is way less scary but worse because…well doing nothing is always worse. You don’t have all these followers affirming you because you suck. You don’t suck. So get up off your arse and do it. Oh and BTW, I’m printing your little mantra and hanging it on my wine rack. Maybe next time I reach for a bottle instead of writing, I’ll think about your stickman and take my own advice. Good luck!

    • Yaaaaaaayyyyyy! What a wonderful comment! Thank you so much! I’m so glad you liked my little mantra – I was kind of pleased with that myself 😉
      Posting a post is indeed scary – and I know exactly what you mean about waiting for that all-important ‘LIKE’ – it’s VALIDATION THAT SOMEONE WANTED TO READ YOUR WRITING!! HURRAH!!!
      But doing nothing is much worse than doing something. And reaching for that bottle is much easier… Christ, who knew so much DISCIPLINE was required for this writing lark?
      Thanks so much for reading and commenting 🙂

    • This is exactly how I feel about writing. A writer once said someone giving you a negative review was like someone saying “Your baby is ugly.” So true.

  18. Hahah! This is SO me! My biggest problem is my pieces seems to reach terminal velocity early. I can never figure out a plot twist with enough in it, how to pace it, and one that hasn’t been done to death!!!

  19. I took a creative writing course recently to inspire me to put my butt in the chair and write “in a disciplined fashion”. What a waste that class was! It was a whole bunch of reading assignments on what writers had to write about writing, and not ONE SINGLE WRITING SUBMISSION for critique or review until the very last class. Sadness.

    Write. Be awesome. Well, more awesome. You are already awesome to begin with. And funny. And witty. And a whole bunch of other adjectives.

    Love your blog!

    • Ohhh God that made me angry. I’ve taken some really shitty ‘writing’ courses in my time and a lot of them were just platforms for some vaguely published author to pontificate about themselves and give us their own stuff to read as though it’s great literature. Makes me MAD!
      Thank you so much for your comment, I really appreciate it. And writing in a ‘disciplined fashion’ is the hardest thing ever – but keep going! 🙂

  20. pjsassifras

    YAAAY! Good for you. I can’t wait to be just one of your many rabid fans (politicians & serial killers unite!) waiting in line at a book signing! One request though, can there be a separate line for the politicians? They totally freak me out. 🙂

  21. Procrastination is the #1 enemy of writers everywhere. Also, the invention of Pinterest. I get lost in boards of nail polish, recipes and memes.

  22. Ah, yes, Pinterest is an excellent distraction. I do write for a living, luckily, and it’s still so easy to just slouch in a chair and be fascinated by cocoons of dust hanging from the ceiling. It’s all about discipline: keeping focused, not following aimless thoughts, and saying no to munchies (another great distraction). So get to it!

  23. I enjoyed Stickman’s interpretive dance, his technique is much better than mine. Do you still have The Girl Who Would Not Go to Bed? Because I would very much enjoy reading that.

    I feel your pain about the procrastination, girl. Do you procrastinate in writing blog posts? I do. If I add up all the time I’ve spent putting off doing things, I’d probably have been able to write at least 10 books, exercised enough to be ready for an Iron Man triathlon, and learn at least a dozen languages. Sigh. Good for you for kicking your own ass! Not literally, unless you literally kicked your own ass, in which case, My goodness, you’re limber!

    • Alright Weebs, how’s it going? Glad you enjoyed Stickman’s dance, he’d been practising that for ages so he’s delighted his efforts didn’t go unnoticed.
      The Girl Who Would Not Go To Bed can be found in all good bookstores, online, and in a box in my parents’ attic. (Mainly in a box in my parents’ attic.)
      I procrastinate over literally everything. I procrastinate over procrastinating. And if I didn’t do that, I too would be a bodybuilder, a linguist, a composer, a poet, an author, and quite possibly an astronaut. But there you go. And now, I did not kick my own ass – I did it once and luckily I learn from my mistakes.
      Thanks for reading Weebles! x

  24. You can always tell someone is a great writer when they can write about the thing they are unable to write about. It’s like using procrastination to help you get better at what you are procrastinating about. Genius move. 🙂 Your words fill me with smiles and a deep desire to incorporate arse and bloody into my vocabulary. Keep trucking! We’re all rooting for you.

    • Damn, you sussed me out! I was writing about procrastination in order to procrastinate about writing… My plan has been foiled!
      Thank you for your incredibly lovely comments, and I’d like you to use ‘arse’ and ‘bloody’ in a sentence today – you’ll find them most satisfying 😉

  25. Liz

    another wild round of cheering and a standing O for you, Miss Becky! (and a little bit of praise for Stick, too, though I know he is (mostly) your doing so most of the hurrahs are for YOU). Had no idea you had a novel in the works and am so excited to see it come to fruition (“fruit”–get it? my food contribution for this comment 😉 ). You can totally do this–not sure what your blog post writing process is, but if you can spin these out like you do, of course you can write a novel. You can write anything 🙂

    Excellent assessment of the perils of being a writer. I skirt the issues nicely by hiring myself out to others who pay me for my writing and editing “skills.” But a truly brave person will challenge herself, knowing that the world NEEDS TO READ what she has to write. We need it, Becky, so bring it on!

  26. I’ve been wrestling with writer’s block for some time. Not fun.
    Thanks for this, Becky. I loved it!

  27. Wow, this post really struck me at just the right time. I saw your comment on my post and was like, hey, Becky, I haven’t read her in a while. So I came over and it’s just – like – these peeps complete me! I have been writing since I could put pen (or crayon) to paper. I used to bored my parents with novel length stories when I was nine. I wrote one about my Cabbage Patch Dolls, and I am sure it was fabulous. Too bad it is lost now. The world will never know it’s genius.

    There’s another book series I started when I was 12 – and have rewritten numerous times since then. I used it as a thesis (creative thesis for the WIN!) but that’s the only “publishing” I’ve had, besides a short story in a college magazine. My problem with the thesis is that my first story wasn’t developed, so we used the second, and then I had to rip tons of that out which I’m not sure I should have . . . so I’ve gone nowhere on these stories all these years. Husband, kids, work, staring at dust motes, computer games – you know I have no time.

    Maybe this is the kick in the butt I need too. Maybe we could support each other. You know, having all these people say you’re an awesome writer should be a great start, right? You know you’ll have readers. That is my greatest fear – that I will flop. Good to know I’m not alone. (Notice even my comments are novel length.)

  28. I like everything about you and I just got here. You are a writer by this post alone. Join us? http://tipsylit.com/

  29. well that only took 28 and a HALF bloody years to sink in!!!!! well done you, about bloody time!

  30. The level at which I love this post is immeasurable – truly.
    I love your writing, I love that you are conflicted, and I think it is sad that the ultimate goal is always that damned book thing. Why is a kick ass blog not good enough to be discussed in hipster cafes at 2am? Why does it have to have a dust cover to be valid?
    Because it just does I suppose.
    I feel you girl. If anybody has it in them, it is you. Just remember, somebody actually printed and made money off Twilight books. Imagine what quality word could deliver?

    • This is one of my favourite comments. EVER.
      You are so right about the novel thing. It’s like the crowning pinnacle of a writer’s ambition and it shouldn’t necessarily be the case. But maybe now I’ll aspire to have a kick-ass blog discussed in hipster cafes at 2am 😉
      Thank you so much for commenting, I appreciate it.

  31. hannonle

    Yay! good for you.

    Just don’t write a really thick/heavy book. Book sellers hate that. I’m looking at you Ms JK Rowling and your lead-weight Potter-y books. Carrying a few boxes of them up a flight of stairs made me knackered and caused our work experience kid to faint! Seriously.

    Won’t somebody think of the booksellers!!!! /drama

  32. This basically just described my life… :,( I need to get off my arse too and finish my damn book!!

  33. Black Frog Publishing

    Enjoyed this post very much – kind of describes us really! Sat here in France with the lovely Emma Strange who has put us into you, so hello 🙂

  34. I just joined so I just saw this and I loved it! You have writers down to a t, and it’s nice to know that other people struggle with procrastination. But if they can get their writing done, so can I, so can everyone! Inspiring. You have a great sense of humor.

  35. I love your writing style, your humour and the fact you are not going to procrastinate any longer! I can so totally see you in print already. I’d buy your book because this is one blog that I actually read through word for word without skipping/skimming over the boring sections…. Sssh don’t tell the other bloggers I follow! Get ready to get up at 5am and make your living off your writing 🙂

    • What a totally lovely comment, thank you so much 🙂
      I have been horribly lax at replying / blogging recently, but I promise I’ll get back to it very soon!
      Thank you again 🙂

  36. Pingback: Story of the Month: Becky Mayhew | River Ram Press

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