Being a ‘real writer’

When my book was published, a writer friend said to me, ‘now you must feel that you’re a REAL writer?’ I know what she meant, because having a first book published does feel like a watershed, an event that defines you as the real thing. I also knew that it was false – the product and the process are quite far apart at times. (Though I love having published a book and my publishers, Black Inc, were and are terrific.) Now, four months after publication, I can see the irony. Now I’m a ‘writer’, I’m doing less writing than I was before I was published! The past year or so I have spent editing my book, proof reading it and then doing publicity for the book. I really enjoy talking about autism and memoir and meeting readers – its been great. But there hasn’t been much time or energy for writing anything new – until now anyhow.

That feeling of noticing the world in a different way, looking at people and places slantwise has finally returned to me. I’m back at the beginning of a writing project, fumbling around in the darkness, no idea what I am doing or why, making obscure notes on the back of shopping lists, cutting out articles from the paper and then wondering which side I cut it out for, borrowing bizarre books from the local library (thank you City of Melville), listening to the sound of crunching leaves underfoot, being preoccupied without knowing what preoccupies me, feeling horribly restless and then unable to settle to anything, waking from dreams that escape just as I reach for them, buying my son red shoes … hold on, perhaps the red shoes aren’t a sign that I’m writing again, though they could be, because I love the colour that is back in life when I’m sort of, almost, writing again. It can be painful though, the struggle to create something new, something worthwhile and beautiful and true, which is what I strive to do. Still, like a lot of life’s pain, I don’t want to do without it!

4 Responses to “Being a ‘real writer’”

  1. plumeofwords says:

    Best of luck! And ‘I’m back at the beginning…’: what a beautiful sentence; it captures the breathlessness and tentative thrill of getting back into it perfectly!

  2. Sharon says:

    I understand that restlessness. Whilst not a professional writer I continually think of topics I might like to tackle. But never seem to settle. I just had my daughter diagnosed with Aspergers at 7. My younger son was diagnosed at 2. I feel like there is a journey to be recorded here, but unsure how or where to start. I fear I may live in a perpetual state of consideration, never doing.

    • Rachel says:

      Hi Sharon. Must be very hard for you to find time to do anything much, let alone writing. But still, the “consideration” you mention is probably partly writing in your head, so I hope you also manage to get some of that onto the page/screen. I’m sure your journey is worth recording – I hope you do.

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