Aha, tension, where have you been until now? I’ve bested my doubts about whether I should write, I’ve discovered a voice and a style, I’ve begun to escape a cycle and climb up to more interesting questions. And I can feel those more interesting questions gathering just out of reach – What kind of writer am I? What kind do I want to be? What do I want to write? What about?

Except I feel I’m still making that transition between layers, between arcs or whatever I need to refer to it as. Because after nudging myself into a position of writing last night, and punching out a couple of pages of an idea I had recently, I’m gently beginning to ask myself some big questions that I need to answer before making that step up successfully.

It’s less about answering the questions, in fact, and more about asking the right questions in the right way. I began with those chilling fingers of doubt tickling in on my thoughts and bringing up the question, “But after all this soul-searching, am I really any good at actually writing?”. This mainly brought on by the rough drafting I’d been doing and the less than inspired ideas I’d been following.

So it’s a fear of failure now, not success. A fear that the ‘template’ I’ve come to embrace of myself – that I am A Writer – might actually be unattainable, much as my previous fear was brought out by my old resignment to a template of myself as Not A Writer and that all my fibres seemed to rail against this. Excuse the tatty self-psychology here, I’m just writing it as it comes.

Of course a question that asks you to value what you’re creating, and by that judgement of value decide if you should continue (whether or not you enjoy it, or whether you could actually place a value on something so personal) is one that either falls to pieces like the idiot nonsense it is or that pulls the rug out from your feet and leaves you gibbering in confusion flat-out on your back.

Maybe I did need to go once more around the cycle I was in, almost as if I had to build up enough self-aware and conscious momentum to finally break away from the gravitation pull of that easy but soul-devouring option of giving in to doubt. And so the question changes and it becomes more of a statement: “This stuff I’m producing feels weak, but it might not always be so. Better that it’s brought out and found wanting than excused the test, never expected to grow or develop.”

My writing style appears to be quite led by moments, like I sketched out last night, of contact with those outer forces which brings out a spurt of great writing – the first verse of the poem, the first lines of these narratives, a vivid image at the heart of a story – but then evaporates once this inspiration has been expressed. The image I had last night, and the perfect first line which came out, was followed by a steady move away from those papery walls.

Perhaps I should be writing more poetry, or just giving poetry a go more often, because it seems that when writing prose it’s harder to maintain a contact with that rawness, that honesty, as I attempt to draw up a narrative and introduce characters, history, all that baggage of novel writing I’m only pursuing because I anticipate it is what the story needs in order to survive. I’m thinking wrong here – it’s redundant to worry about a reader in my first draft if the worth I aim to express isn’t being fully imbued into the writing.

The end of the last post was a bit of a breakthrough in fact, because I’ve long attempted to visualise or express the feeling – in many different ways – but never succeded in taking that out of my head in a sufficiently constructed form. Poetry’s flexibility may be a great way to begin getting me familiar and confident in maintaining at all times a connection with that fluttering edge of creation.


About Ben Catley-Richardson

Writer, reader, husband. Father!
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