I know, I know, I’m the world’s worst blogger. But, truth is, I feel bad blogging to you lot when it doesn’t feel like I’ve got all that much to say. Sure, I’ve won a few more awards, I’ve been to a few more amazing places to talk about and discuss books, I’ve taught some amazing people…but still…I know what you’re all waiting for. More writing, another book. And I’ll be honest here, the book that I’m currently writing is a tricky one. It’s changed shape several times along the writing process – it’s changed settings, themes, characters, even genres. But, most of all, it’s taken a long time. One day I will talk about the process of writing this book, because it’s been a challenging, wacky, enriching and downright surprising one. But not yet.
Right now, I want to share with you two things that have kept me going through this long dark tunnel of writing. The first was that I heard Michael Ondaatje talk about The English Patient on the radio. The presenter asked him how long it took to write the book. Ondaatje told him it took six years of continuous, full time work. The presenter expressed surprise at this and said something along the lines of “But you were doing other things, and other writing, during that time too, right?” To which, Ondaatje replied something like, “No, that’s just how long this book took, it couldn’t have been any other way. All books have a time frame, this was this one’s.” So this got me thinking: maybe my third book has a time frame too. It’s a time frame that’s unique only to this book, one that can’t be pushed and beaten into an easy submission, and one not easily understood by marketing departments. Perhaps creative works have different creative time frames. And perhaps we need to realise this as authors, readers, whatever. Creativity is hard to put a deadline on. Creativity is stubbon. And creativity is not easily tamed. If it were, it would lose the very spark of its essence.
The second thing that made me take heart was hearing Elizabeth Gilbert talk about the elusive creative genius in a TED talk. The idea that genius is something outside of us, rather than inside of us, is comforting. Like realising that each creative work has it’s own unique time frame, it takes the pressure off. It stops us from beating ourselves up when the writing isn’t flowing, or flowing quick enough.
When the writing inside of us needs to break free and race towards the empty page, to tangle words with emotion, and to knit into something complicated and subtle and beautiful… the last thing it needs is a punch to the face.
That’s just what’s in my mind this rainy Saturday afternoon.
Sending thoughts of unicorns,
You can see Gilbert’s fabulous TED talk here – http://www.ted.com/talks/elizabeth_gilbert_on_genius.html