Someone asked the question, ‘Can’t we do it all?’ on one of my writing places, as if there was only one path and he was asking permission to leap off a cliff. It’s a grouping of novelists, and they seem to think that they must stay on the path or they won’t reach the gates to heaven. Focus, is their mantra, and who am I to say that they’re wrong. I don’t want to live in their world. No, not for all the tea left in China. I am a writer; I write stuff, lots of stuff – I’m swimming in stuff. Most of them plod along with one project and don’t dare deviate from it. I like to dip, to swoop in and out of projects.
Publication is their goal; it sits at the end of their road like an advert for the Big Mac, a golden arc, so good they do it twice. All they can think about is getting their work read and published; they’re full of angst about agents and publishers; all they seem to want is to do that for their living, and yet, look at all that stress! I’m a writer but I don’t want that stress in my life. When I send work out I forget about it until it comes back either accepted or rejected. But, if I finish a novel and send that out will I instantly become one of them? Will I beat my chest and mark the minutes off inside my head all day, every day until I drive everyone mad? No, I know that’s not me. I’ve sent a collection of poems to a competition and never think about it; I’ll hear if I’ve been short-listed in February, and that will be that. Meanwhile I’ve got other stuff to get on with.
So what’s wrong with me? Or, am I right and there’s something wrong with them? I am comfortable inside my skin; I know that every day I learn something either by reading or writing. So why am I not charging at those gates too?
I think that because I am the eternal peace-maker, I can always see two sides to any story – sometimes many sides. I don’t take rejection personal, and I know that I have been guilty of sending work out too early, and still do it, but not often. There is also another reason for my fortitude in this matter: perhaps I’m made of stone, or was born in a lab somewhere and there are circuit boards in my head and heart; or perhaps the struggle to bring up three children as a single mother has killed me stone dead inside, and I am just a great big cynic and nothing can hurt me ever again.
We could die tonight in our sleep and where would all that stressing have got us? Life is too short to fret it away. I write and enjoy it. I read and love that. Lots of my poetry is published in literary magazines and I’m confident that my stories will eventually follow but I am all about the natural flow. I know all the so-called rules and when and how to break them, and I know just how I want to write, so if they want me they’ll have to come get me – bones and all.