Summer has hit the weather-torn isle of Great Britain* like a slap of mustard to the face and with that comes holidays, days at the park, festivals, gardening (buying plants in pots), swimming, barbeques, panda-snapping, car washings, country walks, bicycle maintenance, Sunday road-trips, deep-sea-world encounters, sporting expeditions (the World Cup, Wimbledon, Commonwealth Games, Tour de France, Ryder Cup, MotoGP), midnight feasts, animal grooming (aka de-matting), wine sampling, culinary experimentation, family day-trips, rum meanderings, country jogs, fruity awakenings, single-malt fueled and all with a full-English breakfast. Devastatingly delicious. Wow. The U.K., if I do say so myself, for a working-class citizen, is one of the best countries in the world, rain or shine.
However, try writing during this summer extravaganza and you’re royally screwed. Or is that just me? Where to find the time to do what needs to be done? Time must be captured or grasped when circumstance permits, I’m told. But from whence does one grasp such time? In the morning before everyone is awake? Sure, but then your evening (and everyone knows all the great TV is on in the evening) is forfeit because you have to go to bed early. Write in the evening then, when all are abed? Of course, but while you endure the wee hours of the morning all others are a-slumber and you become incongruous to the comings and goings of those around you. So, when then?
Whenever you can, says the wanton voice of flummoxing cognizance.
You do what you do because you choose to and you do it at every opportunity. You push beyond your limits and find the time while others capitulate to the entertainment culture. And when you can’t find the time: you make the time. That is what separates the professional from the dreamer. You set your own goals and you adhere to them. You don’t fail because only with giving up do you experience failure. Never give up.
The above is what I tell myself. Last week I got no writing done. But it’s a toss-up between not being able (or willing) to find the time and not being sure about the direction of the story. For a while, I’ve been at odds with where the story is going. It’s too generic, I’ve read it all before. Does that make it wrong? I mean, if it’s been done before, and been done good, then surely I’m on the right tracks. Every story has already been told, they say, you just need to tell it in a different way.
Do I follow the tried and tested route, keep it safe, let the current flow unhindered and plod along or do I tear those words asunder, revolt in circumlocutory paroxysms that James Dean would be proud of and traverse a dangerously untrodden path? Of late, I’ve been sliding along with the words like a carriage on a monorail but with a twinge of doubt pulling at my fingertips. The process has become so steeped in uncertainty it’s almost going in reverse.
But, I think, therein lies my answer. My sub-conscious, inner-self is nudging me to change it. So I’m gonna. Like so many authors have done before me, I’m going to go back to the point in the story where I feel I took a wrong turn and change the direction. It’ll be hard. I’m hesitant to do so as it’s a huge bunch of wordage. But it’ll be worth it. I need to get the story on the right track and instead of struggling on through this mire of ambiguity I’ve found myself in, I’ll be able to ebb back into sequence. All will be good again.
*Great Britain is the name of the island itself. The United Kingdom (or more precisely the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) is the name for the combined countries that are Scotland, England, Wales (Wales is a principality as well as a country) and Northern Ireland. Ireland is the neighbouring island which consists of Northern Ireland and The Republic of Ireland. While the denizens of each country will in fact declare that their country is indeed Scotland, England, Northern Ireland or Wales, legality will in fact inflict that their country is The United Kingdom—a place where summer feigns and rain reigns.
I enjoy it too much – even if I knew I’d never get a book published, I would still write. I enjoy the experience of getting thoughts and ideas and plots and characters organised into this narrative framework.
- Iain M. Banks