The pain of writing

“So when are you going to write your book?” My Mum asked me last night while Deric and I were at my parent’s place for dinner.

Hardly anyone ever asks me this, and even if they have, they haven’t raised this question in a very long time.

I suppose that’s mostly because not many people know that I have always wanted to write a novel. But I honestly don’t see the point in making others aware of such ambitions of mine when there clearly has never been a solid plan in place.

There are certain friends of mine who aren’t even writers by profession and yet they are so passionately immersed in the act of writing. Every so often I would see or hear of some latest exploit they’d be up to and I would feel genuinely impressed. There never seems to be a shortage of projects, competitions, collaborations, etc that these people can take on, with their day jobs intact.

But here am I, a journalist, who is constantly engaged in some point of the writing process or another, always stuck on what to write about. This occurs in a work context as well, from time to time, but it is even more so with regards to personal projects.

I feel like Creativity has given up on me. This poor soul who still dreams of writing fantastic, mind blowing prose, but who has been reduced to an article production machine who merely churns out timely news reports and feature stories that conform to a publication’s house style.

Well, journalism is not without its lessons, of course, for which I am wiser now than I had been in years past. One thing I have most certainly learned through my work is that you can make a story out of anything.

Editors always belabour the point about getting the right angle for a story we work on, spouting criteria such as timeliness, relevance, proximity and so on (sorry, I never studied these things formally so that’s about as much that I remember of it).

But to be honest, it’s just all about how you present the information. Done right, you can make a century old elephant look like the coolest, most attractive thing on the face of the Earth. All because of the way you strung your sentences together.

So there really should be no reason why I can’t pluck a fictional tale out from thin air. But I want it to be memorable, to be different/unique/special. For the space it occupies on the shelves of a bookshop to be quickly vacated because shoppers are just so compelled to pick up the book and buy it.

Lofty ambitions for someone who has never authored a single book. Although there is that public perception that journalists can write anything, isn’t there?

Pick up any book from a store, turn to the About The Author section, and surely if it was mentioned that the person had journalism experience, you’d think they had the upper hand somehow. That they’d comprehend the mystical inner workings of the written prose to depths that common folk could never expect to even vaguely fathom.

What utter rubbish, seriously.

I consult the dictionary and thesaurus everyday at work. I read and re-read my drafts and constantly am having to rework sentences because there has been a ill choice of words somewhere that I can’t put my finger on. My final drafts still get critiqued and then amendments would be required of me.

Does this ongoing exposure to writing necessarily make me a wiser writer or grant me a better success rate for the novel I have yet to write? I doubt so.

Writing can be taught to a certain extent, but the skill of it cannot be fully transferable from one person to another through the mere use of theories and classrooms. It is an elusive art that few truly master.

And why do I persist in doing it? I am not entirely sure. Perhaps someday it will lose its appeal for me, but I suppose that day has yet to come. For as long as thoughts continue to lurk in the corners of my mind, I guess I will keep writing because these words need an outlet somehow.

But I can only hope that Creativity will come to visit again some time. I terribly miss the heights of imagination and satisfying exhilaration it used to bring me.

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