Who knew that Writer’s Guilt was a thing and is up there with Mother’s Guilt in terms of its ability to crush your heart with shame and fill your head with ideas in the night, yet overwhelm you with lethargy, self-doubt and ‘better options’ during waking hours?
In the summer holidays it’s so easy for good intentions to go out the window. Plans for cultural days out and quality time spent baking with the kids seem surplus to requirement when they appear to be perfectly happy Snapchatting God-knows-who while glued to inappropriate murderous games on the Playstation and you’ve still got a couple of episodes of Mr Robot to catch up on… Same goes for writing. Why waste time trying to develop that idea about the psycho-nanny and her superhero talking dog that woke you up in a cold sweat it was so good when you dreamt it? It’s probably been done like a thousand times. Forget about it.
Forget about all of it. Let the kids do what they want, watch Amazon Prime – you’ve paid for the sod, so use it! – and think about the writing thing tomorrow. Or even better, after the holidays. Yes, once the holidays are over resolve to really knuckle down, get that first book edited and the second finished.
Then wait until you’re lying in bed and watch the cycle begin all over again. That pillow over your head won’t stop the Guilt Gremlin shaking its head and tutting in your brain while reminding you of all the things you could have achieved that day as a writer. It attempts to berate you for the mother thing too before you point out that actually the kids are 11 and 13 and couldn’t give a shit about culture. Snapchat is their LIFE for Christ’s sake. It takes the point and gets back to niggling you about your failures as a writer.
But now the holidays ARE over. They were over over a week ago. And I have no excuse. Fortunately I’m reading possibly the best antedote for the perpetually dilatory. If all of the above sounds familiar, I would urge you to procrastinate just a little longer by reading Viv Groskop’s ‘I laughed, I Cried – How one woman took on stand-up and (almost) ruined her life’. Brilliant – genius, actually – and unbearable in equal measure, it’s the inspirational diary of how Viv decided to test the viability of her dream of becoming a stand-up comedian by completing 100 gigs in 100 days. All while holding down a marriage, three young kids and a career as a journalist. I know! I don’t know the outcome, I’m only at gig 49 but she’s currently touring the UK with her show Be More Margo this year so I’m anticipating a happy ending.
I figure if Viv can do it, I owe it to myself to believe that I can too. Not stand-up, sadly. As much as I’d love to, I don’t have the stomach for it. Writing is what I do. I’ve written one book – currently being rejected by the UK’s finest literary agents. I know I can do the work so why do I find it so hard to call myself a writer?
Here’s the thing: Both kids are now at High School, which means I have gained a stack of that most precious commodity – time. Secondly, my kids are way older than Viv’s were when she conducted her ‘experiment’ and besides, I’ve only got two. That’s one entire human less to consider!! Sure, I’m getting on a bit but who isn’t? Low to middling self-esteem aside, I really have no excuse. Out with self-loathing and in with getting-on-and-doing-the-fucking-thing. Thank you Viv for inspiring/shaming me into action.
Today I begin 100 days of writing. By the end of which I will have (re)edited book number one and will be finished book number two. More importantly, I’ll know whether or not I really can call myself a writer.