The Creative Process

Now and again I get emails from new bloggers asking how I come up with so many things to post about and how I discipline myself to write regularly.
Almost as if I have some sacred writers’ secret that allows me to put lots of words on a page/screen effortlessly.
The truth is I’m a bit of a mess when it comes to posting.
I’m far too easily distracted and if I’m planning to post, I need to factor in an extra three hours beforehand during which I tire myself out and waste my life with random distractions until BOOM suddenly I’m in The Zone and I can post.
I’m just really lucky that I’m a very quick writer, so that when I actually hit on an idea and find the concentration to document it, I can get it down before something shiny takes me away again.
I’d be screwed if I was one of those meticulous people who need to get it ‘perfect’ and spend DAYS editing and re-editing.

On Sunday, I made myself sit down and put together some posts for the week.
I opened the blog, a song came on iTunes and I thought “Oooo I wonder if I can play that on the ukulele” and I was gone.
17  songs later, I was recording myself plaingy a part that I couldn’t figure out the chords for (usually I record, listen back and go Duh, I need to go higher/lower/whatever here – I become a little deaf after a while with the uke) and when I clicked the Stop button, I must’ve double-clicked, because it started recording again.
Without me knowing.
Thankfully there was no nose-picking on my part.
And so here’s two-hours-and-15-minutes of my creative process smushed into a 4-minute video.
Youtube-watching, Facebook-chatting, clothes-washing – pretty much everything but actual writing.
Until the veeeeeery end….when I realise the webcam is recording….

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Warm in your Dream

“Ok, it’s decided,” I announced to The Bessie, over brioche and cafe au lait at the patisserie down the road from our hotel. I’d been staring at the Arc de Triomphe and suddenly it was all clear to me.
“What?” she asked.
“My life,” I said, sipping my hot coffee. “I’ve decided what I’m going to do: I’m going to move to Paris and become a poor,struggling writer. I will compose a wondrous, but under-appreciated novel, that will become revered after my premature death and will be a beacon for generations to come.”

Wandering around endless Parisian streets, it seemed the only option for me.
Anything rather than go back to my dreary, crumbling life in Dublin.

How could I return to a large, cold, empty house in a country that seems to be constantly damp when I was standing in the most beautiful city in the world?

My imagination was coming alive.
I was coming alive.
So many colours, endless supplies of cafés and pastries, an abundance of picturesque avenues and life-changing events all seemed to be telling me I needed to do this.
I needed to be that crazy writer who ups and leaves her humdrum life to pursue the craziest and most fragile of her dreams.

The only problem was that I wasn’t that adventurous or crazy.
I wasn’t even a writer.

Back in Dublin a few days later, I sat eating fries in the same diner I’d been visiting for years.
My friend’s mother popped in for a second and told me she’d heard ‘what happened’ and that she was sorry.
She then proceeded to tell me that she’d been reading my blog and that  I should “write a book”.
I made my usual array of nervous jokes in the face of compliments I didn’t know how to take, but through it all her earnestness was really touching.
The urge returned and I found myself calculating how long I could survive in Paris with my measly savings, since I wouldn’t be able to get a job without having the language (which I have little chance of learning).

“You know,” I told my friend, “after the break-up, I tried to comfort myself by saying that being single would help make my blog a little more interesting. I thought I could be the next Carrie Bradshaw, writing about the complications of my newly-acquired relationships with strangers. It’s not really working out that way though. I’m not big on the random, drunk scoring of strangers and you can’t write an honest account of relations with a person you know, because they or their friends will end up reading it. It’s just mean.”

And so I’m back at Square One, although it feels like Square One-Minus-Five.
I’m living the uninspired life, because of a need to get by financially.
I’ll continue to drag myself into my dreary job, which isn’t just content with taking the 9-5 working hours, but leaves me too drained to function during the evenings.
Sure I’d love be daring like Hemingway or Fitzgerald (yes, I did go to see Midnight in Paris the other day) and experience Parisian life, while churning out great novels, but unfortunately, I’m a little lacking in their talent and so there are practicalities to consider.
But is that what makes a good writer?
Is that what it takes to write The Great Novel?
An utter belief in yourself and your ability, the daring to go for it, the willingness to live in poverty and the single-mindedness to never give up?

It does seem that way, but admittedly, a huge fortune could also help.
Maybe I’ll start doing the Lotto…