I’d hate to appear prescriptive. Who needs my advice? Other than me of course. Well, who knows? But here’s my thoughts anyway, you know, on life right now:
Sometimes we need to know the difference. Us writers, us workers, us husbands, wives, grandparents, athletes, artists – we all need to know how to tell the difference.
The difference between the things we can change and those we can’t.
Enjoy the process – if we keep our side of the street clean then whatever the outcome, we’ve done everything we can.
I’ve written little.
All I need to do is write when I CAN rather than worry about when I can’t. That right there is the only wisdom required.
In the last week I managed a series of dot balls when it came to my novel. It’s always there or there abouts in my mind though. My characters, Rosa and Alec (who may yet not be Alec at all), are nudging at my arm as I scratch out some thoughts in my journal. They’re nibbling at the packet of digestive biscuits my mind is trying to get me to open, despite my self imposed ban on unhealthy snacks (which is another blog post being drafted in the dog eared journal).
BUT, there’s been little time for attacking my novel’s first draft and so I’m concentrating on idea generation, on wordplay, on short bursts of stream of consciousness writing and, I’m pleased to say, lots and lots of reading.
Just WRITE every day of your life. READ intensely. Then see what happens. Most of my friends who are put on that diet and very pleasant careers.Ray Bradbury
So I read.
Since we’ve been taking the youngest grandchild to the library on a regular basis, I’ve started to explore titles I may not have otherwise looked at; short stories, essay collections and craft books on everything from mindfulness to poetry.
Right now, I’m devouring a collection of stories written by the great Roddy Doyle during lockdown. Quite marvellous it is too.
I’m also listening to a monster volume of essays by the equally great Zadie Smith. Including, of course, an impassioned plea to us all to fight for our libraries.
Libraries are vital to every society in every culture. They don’t discriminate.Zadie Smith
In fact, Charlie (the grandson) is inspiring me in ways he probably doesn’t grasp right now – he’s inquisitive, playful, determined, experimental and he challenges himself with whatever is put in front of him. Whether he ends up being a Sainsbury’s driver like his grandad, or the Chancellor Of The Exchequer, a care manager like his mum or a beach cleaner, whether he writes, plays rugby or football, takes up train spotting or mountaineering, I hope we’re helping his mum and dad give him the opportunity and the courage to try life on for size.
He doesn’t appear to need television or social media, but he loves story time, playing catch and Bob Marley, so I reckon he’s doing OK so far.
I am always chilled and astonished by the would-be writers who ask me for advice and admit, quite blithely, that they “don’t have time to read.” This is like a guy starting up Mount Everest saying that he didn’t have time to buy any rope or pitons.Stephen King
And I very much hope he inherits his grandparents’ passion for the written word.
Talking of the written word, time I got the pen out myself….
Onwards my friends, onwards…….
(Pssst – before I go, can I recommend you check out the afore mentioned Roddy Doyle collection? Yes? Good. Because it very much is. Good.)