Stick To Your Guns

So you wanna be a writer?
Are you nuts?
Seriously, don’t do it, not unless you are so driven that you can see it through. Are you prepared for what it takes to write an entire novel? Yeah, I know, everyone wants to write a book. Thing is, mostly, people want to have written a book. They don’t want to do the hard yards.
In the beginning it’s so exciting. You’ve got this awesome idea and you just know it’ll be an amazing story. Right? And you run around telling all your mates that you’re going to write a book. People are excited for you because you’re excited.

In my experience (it’s considerable) 95% of people who tell everyone they’re writing a book, never do. They get a couple of chapters and then it all falls over. Or the time involved is too much. Or they have some other excuse. There are lots of excuses.
Because it’s hard. Because it’s lonely. Because to write that book you have to give up some stuff. There are only so many hours in a day. You have to make time and space to write. You cannot expect a book to drip from your fingertips without the space for it to do so.
Another reason it falls over is that it’s talked to death.
That’s right. You run around talking about it and then discover you can’t be bothered writing it because, well, it has lost the gloss. Happens more often than you think! 🙂
If you want to be a writer you have to Stick To Your Guns.

When I’m writing, I am a shitty friend. I am a crappy selfish human being. It takes everything to juggle family life, the bookshop, and writing. There is nothing left to give anyone. I don’t want to talk. I have nothing to say. Literally, nothing. I don’t talk about my work and that fills my brain. So, there is nothing to say. I don’t allow other things to encroach on what my mind is busy doing. There is no “downtime” once I get to a certain point in the story. It’s not a 9-5 job. The story consumes me. Even my editor doesn’t get phone calls or texts and she’s one of my best friends. She doesn’t know exactly what I’m working on either. Nicky knows the title and the characters involved. No one gets told what the story is actually about.
Because it’s my story. I don’t need or want anyone’s input until it’s done. Now and then I’ll share tiny excerpts. (I make sure they tell you nothing.)
Sometimes I’ll reach out to someone for information regarding a character or a scene and they get a very brief overview. Usually, though I don’t do that until the book is at the first draft stage (‘drafts’ are bollocks, by the way, it’s not like the book exists as different versions, it’s the same file the whole way through). Once I have a beginning, middle, and end – I then find my experts and get their input on various aspects. For example, if I need medical info then that’s when I tap Doug on the shoulder and say “hey, check this for me, please.” Sometimes during a scene, I’ll need specific information, like how much blood can a person lose before their heart stops pumping. If it’s crucial to the story, I will reach out at that point.
Other than that, I don’t say much about what I’m working on. If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter or here, then you’d know the genre and maybe some character info. Not even my kids know exactly what I’m writing.

I don’t purposefully set out to distance myself from people while I’m writing. It tends to happen when I’m getting deep into the world I’ve created. I’ve always done it. My admins and best friend can attest to that.
Once upon a time I used to apologise but fuck that. Why should I? I’m working. If people don’t understand that then it’s on them. This is my life.


2 thoughts on “Stick To Your Guns

  1. You are so right about what it is to be a writer, Cat! It is hard, and it takes discipline and focus. And all that means you do give up other things. I’m like you; when I’m writing, I might share a few sentences, but I don’t really talk about what I’m doing. Until the story is done, I don’t share much of it, because it’s not fully formed. And like you, I do tap people who know what they’re doing when I need expertise in something. There’s a lot that’s difficult, exhausting, and more about being a writer, but if it’s in you, it’s in you. It’s in me. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    • I think you and I are very similar in how we write, Margot. 🙂 Kindred spirits.
      The ability to stick with a story is definitely not in everyone. 🙂 🙂
      It’s a sacrifice that we don’t usually realise we are making.

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