Writing a book has always been my lifelong goal. The way I saw it, if you consider yourself a ‘real writer’ then surely writing a book is the ultimate ambition? I mean, a book is long. What kind of writer are you if you can’t write a good long book?
But when I tried to start I found couldn’t. I was afraid. Terrified. What if it’s a load of shite? What if I’m just waffling on about nothing of any real importance? What if I just can’t finish it? Then what? Then I won’t be Cynthia the Writer I’ll just be Cynthia the… Nothing.
But I knew I had to cop on. I knew giving up was a far more terrifying prospect than getting to work, so I did. And I was right to be terrified. I had false start after false start. I would re read a chapter and cringe in mortification. I gave up, started again, gave up, started again.
Then suddenly it happened. Whomp! One day I got down to work and I stayed working. I believed in my character and her story by God I wasn’t going to give up. And hallelujah!—it was only a bit shite. Heartened, I kept going. I composed dialogue in my head as I cycled into work. I wrote characters and plot ideas on notebooks in cafes like I was living in Brooklyn. I sketched what they looked like, where they lived. I edited obsessively.
And it got better, much better and instead of cringing after reading a finished chapter I felt elated—this is it, thought I, there’s something special here. And then (because it’s not the natural order for things to be that easy) I came full circle when I flung 100 pages at the wall and sobbed: “It’s a load of bollocks!”.
Of course it’s not a load of bollocks, but now I understand why people call things they adore ‘my child’ (like cars and really good top of the range laptops) because although I love it dearly there are times I feel like screaming at it and cutting off its pocket money.
Now I’m still scared, except it’s a whole new kind of scared—now I’m not afraid to start it, I’m afraid to finish it—because that’s when the hard work really begins. This is called, as my dear Mam would say, being a contrary yoke.