I had a job interview last week, I didn’t get the job. It was a (very) part-time, temporary post, but I still would have liked it as the department looked ace. I did, of course, put a lot of preparation and thought into it. (Not going to whine: this preparation isn’t wasted as I can use it with my creative writing groups and future interviews.) This meant that last week the work towards PhD thesis completion was a little limited.
I have a month to go.
I’m so close. It’s nearly at the complete draft / rip bits up / rewrite problem areas – or at least flag ’em up for potential discussion / neaten and sort out the (blasted!) referencing stage.
‘Er, Jen?’ I hear you say, ‘If you’re so close then why the heck are you writing here rather than in Chapter Six 19.09.17.docx?’
Well, since you asked so nicely, it’s partly because I feel a little burned out and therefore moderately distractible/down, partly because of the time of year, but mostly it’s The Fear. The last two chapters were supposed to be the “best” chapters, the two I feel that I know most about. A chance to showcase some of my own creative work.
I open the document.
Know what I have to do.
Then stare at the cursor, it beats on the screen as if it’s constantly giving me the finger.
Flip, flip, flip.
I’ve built it into this impossible thing – where ambition outstrips ability (and time-scale). To evoke a simile involving the South Pennine fringe: it’s like climbing up the surface of the sheer gritstone face of Summit Quarry in the rain, with no carabiners nor any climbing nous. I’ve gotta climb this beast and the only way, for me, to do that is to write into it. Et voila, a blog post.
Hyperbole aside, while this piece of work, ultimately, won’t change the shape of the universe: ‘there are things that are important beyond all this fiddle’. Over the past few years, it’s taught me a few things about writing. In creativity, there is ‘a place for the genuine’.
Rather than a WOW! These Ten Writing Tips will BLOW YOUR MIND, the following is a list of things I find helpful (when I remember to put them into action). And I’m sharing them in the hope that it’s a helpful list! Would love to hear your thoughts too.
- That little voice, you know, the one that says ‘What the hell are you doing?! What right do you have to do that? You know that it’s going to be rubbish anyway? You can’t!’ may not go away but there are ways of coping with it
- You ARE good enough. And you CAN do this. Just gotta believe it – while retaining a sense of humility.
- Foster a resilience: learn it, remember it, put into practice.
- Locate your allies, they do exist. (In my case: my supervisory team, friends, family, fellow creatives.) If low, and feeling on your own, they will be there.
- Unless someone has something constructive to say, ignore the trolls. (I know, it’s hard, people can be gits.) As Taylor Swift sings: ‘Haters gonna hate, (hate, hate, hate, hate)’.
- Sometimes you’ve got to write your way in, or around it, to get where you need to go to. Or, if not, to take you on a wobbly, or even circuitous, route elsewhere.
- Your writing &/or research is important; there may not be many other people writing about, or looking into, this area (yet!).
- LOOK! You just made something up/wrote something down that wasn’t there before. That’s some kind of magic, yes?!
- If you can’t write, do something related to it. (I make stuff in a joyous amateur way, possibly not/never for sharing!)
- Nothing is ever really completed.
I think I might have written somewhere before about the feeling that when you make something, and then share it, that sometimes it is like putting your heart on a platter. And with that, I’d better pop off and get that organ ready for plating.
Flip, flip, flip off cursor.
In other news, this week marks 20 years since I left home for a tumultuous three years in Sunderland. If someone can go back in time and tell the tempestuous little idiot pictured below that, while everything won’t quite be all right, it’ll be more or less OK.