You may have to be Irish and of a “certain age” (read 65+) to appreciate the metaphor explaining my recent epiphany!
Always an avid reader, I turned to writing bits and pieces in my twenties and over the years, when life didn’t get in the way, I wrote a few articles for magazines, entered competitions and managed to pound through two “things” that I thought were novels. The joy that all this brought me and my love for the writing habit (pardon the pun) convinced me I had the Call, the Vocation. I would join the Community.
I became an ardent Novice and learned so much about discipline and humility, hooks and blurbs and premise and character flaws and conflict and resolution. I was walking in the shadow of greatness. Soon I would see the light.
Then I heard about The Business. An alien world inhabited by strange people. I learned about Agent hunting where the writer is practically prostrate before someone who talks rights and contract negotiations and deals and percentages and deadlines. Editors who take pleasure in ordering yet another draft of my perfectly crafted magnum opus and in killing off my favourite character. Publishers who levitate at book launches and who expect their Chosen Ones to say something original about The Book for the fiftieth time.
Writing was not at all what naïve me had imagined. I was completely out of my depth. In my foolhardy dash to become a recognized “writer”, I’d tried to jump from baby infants to university and I’d hit a wall and landed on my bottom. Then I picked myself up and dusted myself off and realized I’d lost my vocation!
And I’m not going to go around searching for it. I’ll still enjoy reading lots of great novels that I can now look at with a more discerning eye, writing bits and pieces, especially short stories which is the form I find myself most comfortable with.
So many people have knowingly or unknowingly helped me understand that time is precious and there comes a time when we have to prioritise. Thank you all.
If I can finish on a serious note, I would say that I wish I’d studied as much about The Writing Game in my twenties as I’ve done these past few years. Who knows, I may have made a go of it!
(c) Frances Fahy