Yesterday I wanted to write about how working as a games journo had meant not writing what was true, and how some of my work now was about re-presenting a slightly buffed up version of the truth, and how this was meaning I am struggling with writing because I need to relearn how to write the truth.

But that would have been a short and self-indulgent post, not to mention one which would have reflected more on my own handling of the truth than the demands of those roles. It’s true I had to write endless ‘exciting’ news stories which were anything but exciting news. But that didn’t stop me writing truth.

Instead, I coped with the demands of the roles by writing around the truth or simply writing what I wanted the truth to be, or just ignoring truth and writing words. All of which took a smack in the face when my better half pinned me down to one question – when I’m in control of all these things, WHY am I still doing them, and why am I still writing about doing them?

From starting to answer the question of what my success would be with a straightforward “money” reason, things quickly fell apart when my ambition to be recognised or awarded or noticed and invested in by third parties was skewered by two certain facts.

One, I can only write something I can be proud of by being my own writer, and two that I can’t pursue being my own writer at the same time as attempting to impress others in an attempt to wi prizes and, basically, love.

If I wasn’t given enough of the love I desired, or enough of the attention I wanted as I was growing up then that’s one issue. But given that I’m done with looking for the reasons and – if I ever want to be happy – have to commit to taking the solutions, it’s time for my own actions.

So if those two facts are unavoidable, as they are, then there’s only one answer – I have to believe that if I fulfil the first statement and put my focus and energy into completing projects in my own way, in words which are true to me, the outcome will be something I can be proud of.

And if I can be proud of something I have produced, and if I believe that I know quality and know that I wouldn’t be proud of something which wasn’t up to the quality I know I can produce, then I must believe that there will be others out there who will see that quality too, and invest their time in my creations.

I have struggled to write for myself, because it feels too amateur and unambitious. But if I can write to succeed in actually having written something, in completing something to a level which I am proud of, then I can drop the hollow ambition of seeking validation through the value which others place on my work.

If nothing else this is the only healthy and sensible way to be, since if I commit to writing what I think others will value or if I only validate my belief in the quality of my work through the value found in it by others, even completing a huge project won’t be a success – not until I’ve had it validated by outside opinion.

Which of course leads to the inevitable fact that some people like things that others don’t. How would I cope if in my attempts to validate my work externally I only meet rejection? Even worse, if I sacrifice my own writing voice to fit into the expectations of others, I’m unlikely to ever handle the rejection as I would have nothing of myself to defend in the finished work.

So success can only ever be that I complete something which I am proud of, and which I am proud to share with other people. Since I know I’m not a cretin, and since I know a great deal of intelligent people, and since my wife is incredibly discerning, it follows that I will know quite quickly if my pride is misplaced or not.

And if I am proud of it and share it proudly with people and continue to do so without compromising my own voice, I must believe that – just as I know I am not alone in the way I feel and the things I like – my work will eventually find itself in the hands of people who appreciate it. And who may want more of it.

And if I believe in the intelligence and discerning nature of those I love, and know that they wouldn’t allow me to share something which wasn’t of the standard they see in me, then I have to believe that there are more people like them, and so more people who will appreciate my work. Whether or not it leads to awards, success will be having created something which people can make their own decisions about.

Which means that the only course of action is to sit, write and complete these projects, to draft and redraft, and to share my work in every single way possible with as many other people as I can. To create work which is true to me, which I haven’t compromised and which I haven’t forced into a shape which is unnatural. Basically, the only way to write is to write.

How has it taken me so long to come up with an answer my own site provided?

About Ben Catley-Richardson

Writer, reader, husband. Father!
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