The act of writing fiction, for me, exists in the tension between what I want and what the story wants, and the hope that I can recognise the difference.
Sometimes I say too much, sometimes I say too little. Discovering that, the what seems to be correct narrative path, the right words in the right places (or how else could they be the right words?) is a work of great concentration, with the odd miraculous moment of epiphany, and is built on deep engagement with the writing except when it isn’t.
I’m not particularly bright, nor swift, nor nearly as well read as I would like, but I can produce books, when I have time, and concentration. I can produce them when I don’t, but it is a struggle.
I don’t know if this is particularly insightful, but there you go. That’s the nature of writing. You never really know if you got it right. Sales won’t tell you, reader responses won’t - because there is a pretty even split between those who love a book, those who hate it, and those who don’t really have any strong feelings at all.
So, I guess, success can only be measured in the continuance of work in the face of all the other pressures of life, and in a way that isn’t neglectful of those you love.
I look at all the things I want to write, and the time I have left to write them and I wonder if I will ever finish even a third of what I would like to. It’s kind of exhausting, but there’s something wonderful about it too, knowing you will never run out of stories.
The rewards are few, failure constant, but for all that it’s oddly satisfying, sitting there in the tension between narrative and disorder. Now, let me tell you a story.