Friday, 25 November 2011

A Capital Offence

Are you like me in that when you’re NOT writing you’re anxious about READING and when you’re NOT reading you’re anxious about WRITING? Or when you’re neither reading NOR writing you’re anxious about either reading or writing or SUBMITTING to magazines or NETWORKING or looking for OPPORTUNITIES? Or when you’re writing you’re so DESPERATE to stop and do anything else, you’re anxious about not paying SURGICAL MICRO-ATTENTION to the text? Or when you’re writing you’re anxious about the NO POUNDS in your bank account and want to get a PROPER JOB that pays ACTUAL MONEY? Or when you’re looking for a job, you’d rather SCRATCH YOUR OWN EYES OUT than work when writing is all you want to do, despite the fact writing is a HORRIBLE THING and pays no money and no one reads anything you write, even when it’s published, and it’s much easier to UNBLOCK LAVVIES than be the new Joyce? Or do you not have these concerns? I want to be you.

Also. Are you like me in that EVERYTHING YOU WRITE is never as good as what came before, and what is written today is STEAMING SHITE compared to yesterday’s shite which today looks like GOLDEN DODO PELLETS? Do you stare at your words hoping they might magic themselves into GOREGOUS IMAGERY, beautiful prose, dazzling language, all that SHIT IN BOOK REVIEWS? Do you want to KILL ALL THOSE FANNIES who write one book with an orchard on the cover and get gigs in MA PROGRAMS, forcing their students to read BOLIVIAN POETRY until their brains burst open? Would you rather stick an axe in your head than write another story NO ONE READS? Do you worry endlessly about how your style is EVOLVING and how you are evolving even though you have no idea what this actually MEANS since no one reads your work, or the people who do read it have no time to ANALYSE THE MINUTIAE of your work to map out an EVOLUTIONARY PATTERN? Do you? Then you might be me. Or prone to exaggeration.


  1. I have a lot of these feelings--especially the anxiety that what I'm doing right now is the wrong thing (not writing this comment of course but anything I might be doing at the moment). It's very hard for me to sit and read a book for more than 20 or 30 minutes. Something I'll read gives me an idea. And then I think I'm wasting my time reading when I should be writing. And so on.

  2. Oh you just peered into my soul. Mostly. The parts of it with blue cheese and dodo pellets. - Chris Kouju

  3. Pretty much, yes, and I also have a full time job and sometimes have to stay long hours. Yep, I do wonder myself when I sleep, yes.

  4. Chris: I guessed it was a common anxiety among writers. Geoff Dyer's Out of Sheer Rage is a brilliant look at writerly neurosis, that you can read between angsts.

    Chris: Good?

    Kasia: Oh don't get me started on full-time jobs and sleeping. Gah.

  5. What about this: I read books at work (I'm not paid to, but I always manage to sneak a book in and read it and then incoming emails annoy me immensely). I takes a nap there sometimes, too.

    A few night ago I woke up at 4 a.m. with a complete idea for a story in my head, pondered on it for the next three hours, but in the morning was too tired to even write it down (I have since then, I was freaking out that I'd forget it - I still forgot the title I had for it which was perfect or so it seemed at 4.30)


    I'm always anxious that I should be either reading, writing or sending things out into the big wide world that I end up doing none of those things, choosing instead to sit around and stew. Add in that I have a part-time job, and spending time looking for a full-time job, and it's safe to say I spend a lot of my time being wholly unproductive but working myself into a complete lather about everything.

  7. Kasia: I always think those with full-time jobs are the most efficient writers, compared to unsalaried layabouts like me who have infinite time to self-loathe and avoid writing. But I'm probably wrong.

    Emily: Yes! Then you're a member of the club. It's no fun, this club.

  8. yes, but when i do, i just splice people with photocopiers and everything is fine again.

    Miss West