This question came to haunt me last week, when I finished the third part of my pentalogy “The Maharajagar” after 27 months of sacrificing most of my free time on this particular item. I don’t dare to think about all the time and energy I’ve invested into the first two parts and how much blood, sweat and tears I will shed over the two remaining installments.
Twenty seven months of struggling with dialogue, description, subtext, plot, structure, character, time, point of view, beginnings, endings, theme and much besides is a Herculean labor, not made more appealing by the fact that you always – always – fail. Any author will agree with the statement that a work of art is never completed; only abandoned.
The book was barely out for the book press and I had already to resist the urge to start tinkering at it. I know that eventually I will do so, but at this instance I force myself to rejoice the feeling of some accomplishment and to focus on the dreaded obligatory promotion and advertisement campaign. Not that I have my hopes high of raking in any substantial critical acclaim or, even less, expect to be adequately remunerated for all the time, effort and thoughts I’ve spend on this literary activity.
George Orwell remarked once “Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon which one can neither resist nor understand. Writers get to lay out their vision of the world, which, for some reason, feels important to them – although this may be indistinguishable from the baby’s cry for attention.”
The importance of Dante’s Inferno to Irish writers and artists
And still, a new poll reveals that 60% of Britons long to be an author. But could they handle the insecurity, loneliness and paranoia? I can deal with it because I’m comfortably asocial—a hermit. Sometimes I tend to be a pessimist if I’m not careful and an oil-and-water combination of ambition, laziness, insecurity, certainty, and drive.
For me writing is a way to find rest and repose amidst an incredibly busy and bustling life — an oasis found through the writing process and its fruition. It helps me to release some complex and convoluted thoughts that I foist with the narrative of a historical fantasy. This provides me with an effective source of grounding and stress release and takes a greater burden off of my shoulders.
What it doesn’t do, is providing an income to put bread upon the table or pay for a roof over my head. It’s also no substitute for having a real social life.
Are there some people out there who can relate to this column or who can provide a different angle upon this subject?