Thursday, 5 July 2012

It's Good When There Aren't Short Cuts. Honestly.

I've been having a big clear out of my house and went to the local dump yesterday.  As I drove out it struck me how lucky I was not to be rich, because if I'd been rich, I wouldn't have had that experience.  I wouldn't have experienced the banter between the staff, the good humour of the people doing their recycling, the feeling of satisfaction as cardboard goes into the cardboard container, the broken chair goes into the wood container and so on.

I can't claim that it was one of the best experiences of my life, but it added to my overall feeling of pleasure and satisfaction with life but if I'd been some rich celebrity, I'd have sent some minion to do my recycling and I would have missed out.

Some years ago I had a minor celebrity in one of my classes whose agent had suggested that they 'might like to try writing a novel.'  They even had a publisher eagerly waiting for their book. 'But it's hard,'  they moaned.  'I can do 5000 words but then... and I'm really busy with other projects.'  They were genuinely trying to write, but there are some who don't bother and others who have a go but need a certain amount of help from an editor or ghost writer and don't register how far the finished product differs from their original attempts (I've got several ghost writer friends who tell me it's not unusual to see their clients on the Good Morning sofa earnestly expounding that they wrote the book themselves).

The process of writing is hard, but enjoyable.  The process of getting published is hard, and the outcome is not guaranteed, but there's a lot of enjoyment to be had on the way - meeting other writers, making a group of friends experiencing the same process, learning about the way the business operates, becoming informed about the world that produces the books we love as readers.

Would I have missed that experience?  No.  There were no short cuts available to me - no agent suggesting 'why don't you write a novel?', no publisher waiting eagerly.  I didn't know any published writers or anyone in publishing, or really anything about the business.  But I've had a lot of fun, and my pleasure in writing has been enhanced a thousand fold by the difficulties along the way.

Things that come easily are rarely worth having and success tastes all the sweeter for the struggles along the way.


penny simpson said...

Jolly glad the 'celebrity' wasn't in our class!

Sarah Duncan said...

X was very nice, but a bit clueless!

Jenny Harper said...

This was a good post, Sarah, thank you. It resonated with something I wrote on my blog last week, but helped me to stay optimistic - thank you!

Sarah Duncan said...

Glad it helped, Jenny.