What I love most about this time of year is that cherries are now in season. At our local market, they sell them by the boxful and there’s nothing like being able to graze on them by the handful, knowing they are not only delicious, but, unlike chocolate, more or less guilt-free.
Which is just as well, as I’ve been feeling guilty a lot over the past week – about the state of the house, about not doing more with the kids over the half-term break and particularly about my negligible work-rate and general lack of focus.
I’ve been trying to produce pieces to meet the briefs for various writing competitions, but as a result, it feels like it’s a long time since I got my teeth into a larger, more meaty project. At times it feels as if I’ve lost my way. I’ve also been struggling with my identity as a writer – can I really even call myself a writer? I’m not sure. And what it is I really want to write about anyway, what is it I want to say?
When I started out, I had an idea for a story that presented itself so powerfully that I felt no real need to ask myself why I was drawn to try to tell it. That was some years ago now, and the path that seemed so broad and straight has become narrow, obscure and fraught with pitfalls.
Even more damaging, I frequently find myself drawn into making comparisons with others who are treading the same path seemingly far more confidently and successfully than I am. It’s not that I’m jealous; I genuinely believe that the more good writers there are, the greater appetite there’ll be for high-quality writing.
Success engenders more success for more people. I don’t wish successful writers ill. Rather the risk, for me at any rate, is of being rather too over-impressed, and subsequently overwhelmed with a sense of my own inadequacy.
I feel I should write more, and be much less bashful about putting my stuff out there, but am not always sure how to go about doing this. Is it a good idea to enter competitions, when you’re up against so many others? Maybe I should just focus on writing feature-length screenplays – the most pleasurable format for me, but the hardest to sell. Or should I write short films that are quick and easy to make? Or what about radio? I like the idea of writing for radio, but again am not sure about how to break into it. What I need is a proper strategy.
I guess the main thing is to stick at it, put my head down and keep going. When I look back at things I wrote a few years ago, they make me cringe. I know I’ve learned a lot since then and that my writing’s much better now than it was. Maybe the point is just to keep jogging on, and not worry so much about where it’ll take me.