I was shocked recently by the news that the mother of one of my daughter’s friends had died suddenly, after being diagnosed just two days previously with a terminal brain tumour (she had been suffering for months with headaches). How people get through such a devastating loss is beyond my imagination. It is moments like that which shape your future. I just hope the family can eventually live with their loss and lead a strong and happy life.
And it was with these thoughts in mind I realised, that not only do I need to count my blessings (all too often you hear of curveballs being thrown in other people’s lives which remind you to do this), but also to count my achievements. I don’t know about other writers, but too much of my time is spent worrying about what I should be doing: why can’t I achieve that daily word count? Why did I fail at Camp nanowrimo yet again? Why can I not find time to read all the books I want to read?
I was walking the dogs last week and a vision caused me to reflect on what I have achieved as a writer (because it is this mainly that I beat myself up about). There were clumps of bluebells growing amidst an overgrown hedgerow and a vast array of nettles.
We should all look for the bluebells in our lives.
We should not live amongst the nettles and continually beat ourselves up for what we have not yet achieved.
We should all, every now and then, pat ourselves on our backs for what we have achieved.
As a writer, I have not (yet) gained a traditional publishing deal, my books do not (yet) stand proudly on bookshop shelves and I do not (yet) have an agent. BUT I have completed two books, one of which I have published myself and the other sits in Dropbox, in the vain hope that somebody, someday, may like to contemplate taking that step further with it. ALSO, I was longlisted for a national competition in 2016 and graduated that same year with an MA in Creative Writing. And this year, I have so far written four times as many words that I wrote in the whole of last year!
And still, it is the lack of words on the page, the hours wasted on social media and the little time that I devote to reading which bug me: the words from my school reports haunt me often – ‘could do better.’
Just 3% of those who start writing a novel, actually finish it!
Many people flippantly say, ‘Yes, I’d love to write a book one day,’ or ‘There’s a book in everyone,’ but how many actually follow it through? 3% apparently. I can’t find the original source for this statistic, but it makes me feel good because I am one of the 3%. And for those of you struggling on with your writing, year after year, with hope constantly feeding the fire of your motivation – may your talent, persistence and a little bit of luck one day come your way.
And don’t forget to look for those bluebells!