I attended the last of my college sequentials. I have from today until May to write a series of critical essays – a thesis if you will – about writing and publishing. It’s a pensive time for me, I’m not going to lie. The culmination of my time at college has been a fevered, bordering-on-uncomfortable process where I have percolated what it will mean to complete a two year Creative Writing Masters degree. I will emerge from the crysalis to become what, exactly?! When asked what I do for a living I could say ‘writer’ with authority, couldn’t I? I spend my days writing and thinking about writing so that qualifies me, right? But have I been published? No. Have I earned money from writing? Not really.
Aside the academics, I have to decide what must be done to complete my novel. There’s an impatience in me; I feel as if I have waited years to produce this work and now I’d like it to progress. But it’s not ready yet. Meanwhile, I have learnt so much about myself in these two years. It was intimated to me that my life might not have been ‘literary’ enough to meet the constraints of the publishing industry. People like writers to have been monogamous to their trade. To have toiled in the strange half-life of spilling their thoughts to paper for others to read, for that to have been their raison d’être. It feels to me that we prefer that story; the usually impoverished, angst-ridden writer who is steeped in the literary conventions we’ve come to expect. Surrounded by books, educated in books, connected to books.
My trajectory doesn’t fit. I actually left publishing in my twenties, abandoning books to work for a corporate. I can categorically say: I sold out for the money. I wanted to do business. I spent my time penning legal defences and protocols for a multi-national. I wrote emails and policy documents and in my spare time, later on, wrote this blog as an outlet. Added to this is another transgression, which is hard to articulate, but is this: I like frippery. Fashion. A certain lightness of life. This side of me does not fit the category of ‘serious writer’. Yet when I wrote my novel what came out was serious.
It’s an interesting conundrum. I’m an advocate of being oneself. I’ve been around the block, I’m not about to morph myself into something I am not.
So an internal tussle ensues.
This blog is a place where I come to write. A bit like going to a mini-retreat. I have always curated an online space that is pretty and thought-provoking and generally has been surrounded by a loyal community of readers who are interested and engaged. This has persisted for many years and I can’t imagine a time when coming here won’t feel like that. One thing I have established is that people read blogs because they want to know about the person, not the brand. Not the product. It’s the honesty of human connection we are all after.
So I am trying to reconcile the two. Does being a writer mean one must dress/look/speak/adhere to the conventions of being a writer? One to muse…