8/01/2013

Trust

Sometimes, I think, the hardest thing you can do as a writer, even after many years, is to trust yourself. It feels a little too much like closing your eyes at the wheel of a speeding car, of putting your trust in the force. It's as if you have to keep an eye on yourself all the time, to worry and fret, because if you don't, the words won't be as good.

I think now the problem with that attitude - which is largely unconscious, I think, and is shared by many writers of varying pedigrees - is that it assumes the writing process is entirely conscious. Large parts of it are, of course: you have to do a lot of thinking in this job. There are a lot of moments of sudden stillness, eyes fixed on the middle distance, while you search for some connection, some way of reconciling parts of a story that don't quite somehow fit. But the fact that revelation - sudden insights, previously missed connections - occur spontaneously, and when you least expect it, indicates that a lot of writing is, in fact, unconscious. It comes out of the fingers, via the subconscious. Your fingers know how to do the dance without being told.

This occurs to me because a while back I calculated how many words I've written since I sold my first ever short story waaaay back in 1990, and it's well over a million - and the very vast bulk of that took place following the publication of my first novel. My career has in itself been an education in how to become a writer. Learning on the job, essentially.

In other news, I'm in serious danger of becoming a cycling bore. I've always enjoyed cycling, and have always cycled, only slightly because I never learned to drive. Sometime recently some internal barrier was broken and now I'm cycling more and more. When I'm back in Taiwan, I will be considering a silly amount of money on a half-decent road bike (as opposed to my current cheap-ish Ridgeback hybrid). 
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