The problem with having had the gleam is that for it to mean anything, work has to ensue. I hate this. I would rather leave my book/idea/hunch unsullied by actual words. Anything I write to make it come into being will inevitably fall short. I hate this too.
So here are some quotes from the great and the good that I am using as guides to help me negotiate this journey of (inevitable) disappointment.
‘Writing is about hypnotizing yourself into believing in yourself, getting some work done, then unhypnotizing yourself and going over the material coldly.‘
Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird
There are days when the hypnosis comes more easily than others. Others when the going over things coldly comes more naturally. I don’t think the self-belief is ever really there, not in my case, not long term. Not really. I write in spite of. I write against. I’m sure this is why I write short things. I can only stretch the hypnotics so far each day
then there’s this. I have been going back and back and back to an article by DBC Pierre, in the Guardian last summer, on the process he engaged in while writing Vernon God Little: ‘Leap before you look. The tools do appear.’ I love this. I have been trying it out, as I freefall without a parachute/safety net/plan of what the hell I am doing. And it works. The tools do appear. Are appearing. Will appear again
a few years ago I interviewed Cliff Yates for a project. Talking about his drafting process, he told me that he has developed a habit of re-drafting (‘Writing is rewriting’) with the same speed and in the same state of inspiration as that which prompted his initial draft. I love this, too. It changed the way I do things.