Guest Post: On Taking the Long Way

When the lovely Katya from ‘Into the quick sands we go’ got in touch about writing a guest post from Writing from the Tub, I was so excited to see what she came up with. If you haven’t read her brilliant blog about writing, life and motivation then you’re seriously missing out, so make sure you head over to read her latest post. You’ll thank me, I promise. If you prefer your blog updates via the medium of Facebook, here you go.

Today’s fantastic post talks about how writing fits into the reality of life and that reaching your destination isn’t always smooth sailing. It’s something so many of us can relate to, so if you’re looking for a virtual kick up the rump to nail your writing goals this year, read on…

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When I was 19, I had it all figured out. I would move to England to study business at university, but I had a secret plan – I would write novels, and achieve literary self-sufficiency by the time graduation rolls around. I was sure I would be the next Hannah Moskowitz. After all, look at the stuff that got published! I’d be Queen of the Pen in no time.

19-year-old me had a lot of opinions. She was also not shy to make them known on the Internet.

Unfortunately, life throws curveballs at you all the time, and the more fixed you are on one vision, the later you notice it. Sometimes, you might not even see it before it smacks you in the face.

I wrote a novel. I tried to edit it and failed. I wrote another and failed to edit it, too. I wrote a third. I got depressed. I got blocked. Nothing I put down on the page felt right. Before I knew it, I was in the final year of a degree I hated, and with job prospects bleaker than the world of Mistborn. I howled and raged, and cried in various professors’ offices (sorry, guys!) Nothing could make it better – I could not go back to my writing. I felt like my life was over.

Then, once I exhausted myself howling, and raging, and crying, the school counsellor said something to me, something that stuck with me to this day:

“Perhaps it would be helpful for you to think of it as going towards writing, rather than back to it.”

I nodded and sniffed and wiped my eyes. But it took another year, a crush, half a dozen lost friendships, and a broken heart for me to figure out the meaning of her words. Being static is simply not in our nature – people change. I might have loved my younger self for her confidence and her productivity, but the truth of the matter is that she grew up and had to find new ways to approach her writing.

Here’s the hard truth I had to get used to: We all have a dream, and for most of us, the route to that dream will not be straightforward. There’s no way to know what comes around the bend. You could be heading to a golden meadow. You could be walking into a pack of wolves. Maybe you’ll have to revise your dream. Maybe your dream won’t look anything like you imagined it. Maybe it would, but you’d find you only liked it in theory, not in practice.

The only thing I could “do” about all this (and even there, it’s doubtful to what extent this is a conscious decision) is make up my own mind about how I’d act. Would I keep on weeping? Would I enjoy the scenery (and the endorphins, because: a pack of wolves)? Would I complain to everyone who listens?

Would I keep on walking?

I’ve no idea where you are right now, or what your dream looks like. But here’s what I’ve done, and plan to keep on doing, in order to stay sane:

–    Kick ass in everything I do. There’s no “day job”, or “real job”. There’s no occupation that’s “higher” than another. I put the same effort into my academic work as I do in my writing. I’m passionate about both. I’m professional in both. And I allow myself to make mistakes and learn.

–    I’m enjoying editing. It’s easier when you accept you have to make changes, and that you’re allowed to make mistakes.

–    I do things other than writing. It has made for a vastly better social life.

–    I help others. I’m not hogging my own time, and I genuinely like seeing others make progress. Comparing yourself to another person is kryptonite – as any book on writing will tell you. Genuinely wishing someone well is an antidote.

–    I experiment with form and genre. For example, a friend of mine and I exchange postcards with short stories written on the back. I’m also drawing again. I write essays. I volunteer to guest post more. 😉 There’s a whole world out there other than novels.

–    And I embrace calling myself a writer. Because, really – if not me, then who else?

Most of all, I arm myself with patience. And a kickass pair of walking boots.

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