Wednesday, 5 October 2022

If you are a writer, or someone who would like to think of themselves as a writer — or someone who calls themselves a writer❊, if you write your thousandth word just as a church clock sounds half past seven and the word count of the ms you’re working has just ticked over from 11,000 to 12,000, it’s already a good day.

I have a vision of walking into my publisher’s office with the manuscript of my second book and it landing on his desk with a thump. Here it is, I will say. And really after that, whether he wants to publish it, or not, doesn’t matter to me.

The writing of the second book became a Thing, an unhealthy obsession that contributed to my depression such that instead of being happy about having published a book and being read and hearing from people that they liked what I wrote and in the case of at least one person it changing their life, I was unhappy that I was unable to poop out a second book. When my publisher wanted an option on a second book included in my contract I had been thrilled, but with it came the weight of expectation. Not of him, my book sold poorly and he lost money on it, but for myself.

I always say, a book needs an engine to drive it, and it took six long years after publishing my first book to find the engine to drive the second. But I was depressed for four of those years. And then that became the engine of the book. Life is interesting!

❊ Lauren Berlant, God rest her soul, once explained to me the advantages of calling yourself a writer and I will always be grateful for it: It enables you to take your writing seriously. It will improve your writing. If I am a writer, when I am writing, I am working.