xxiii

Back to tension. I’ve done W2B a disservice in the last few posts, as in trying to show the problems I’ve had or am trying to overcome I’ve given the impression that she’s making the process boring. The reality could not be more different.

There is tension still, though. Principally I think it’s to do with my hopes for writing, and that I see the idea part of the process as much less of a big deal than the writing itself. The ideas are exciting, but perhaps that’s the problem – maybe the fact I’m enjoying the imagination part means I don’t see it as ‘work’ or ‘effort’.

Whichever, the truth is that for me the idea is just the start, it’s a fraction of the whole, a limited expression of what I’m really aiming for – the completed piece. And it’s this completion of a piece which is hard work, which I obsess over as being the fundamental part of writing, and which I get stumped on.

With my better half, however, I’m forever being reminded that the idea isn’t just a blip, it’s more than simply an arbitrary stage in the process. In fact, she has no fear or worry about the creation stage, or the completion – I feel she sees it as inevitable, as just a matter of time. Compared to my doubts, W2B has only belief.

But, my hopes for writing. They’re personal, ambitious, and part of the tension is I worry that what we create won’t be my work. So how can I ever be proud of it unless she is equally credited, since I’d only be part of the story, part of the success and achievement.

Yet I value her input so much I would rather not write than write without her being involved in the process. Though at the same time last night I pounded through the poem, wrote up an incredibly loose draft and then spent a good slog on the third verse, really feeling like I’d got somewhere. Got somewhere without her? I don’t think so.

What I need, I think, is to know someone is always going to read my stuff. I need someone to tell my ideas to, to share my plot twists, my sudden characters, the things I want my writing to say – I need a reader I can trust and rely on to tell me the truth, but also to help me in shaping what I’m writing so it becomes the best it can be.

I’ve really enjoyed working together, and we’ve come up with some really fantastic lore, great turns of phrase, she is responsible for seeing and bringing out the arrangement of the poem. We worked so well on the second verse and really came out with something that worked that I cannot imagine not involving her with the rest of the project, and those afterwards.

But I’ve struggled when we’ve been right there at the coalface together, trying to bring something out of nothing, trying to find that first draft. Last night the typewriter was her in a way, drawing the words out of me and ensuring I was expressing what was inside my head so that there was room for ideas and thoughts to grow, die and progress. And I know that the words I’ve brought out we’ll work on developing together.

What I fear, the most, is that the amount I want to share won’t be enough for her, that she’ll feel shut out or neglected or held at a distance. I don’t want this. But I’ve got to be honest that there’s some space, however small it is, in the writing process which at the moment I don’t know how to share.

That’s not to say I won’t share it, or that I can’t ever see us sharing it. But if the ideas come from my head, the writing has to be plugged directly into that. What I want is to share everything that I can, that I know how to share while still actually doing it, and for that to be the start of the conversation and not the end.

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About Ben Catley-Richardson

Writer, reader, husband. Father!
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