I have a fear of doing that’s made worse by not doing, and solved only by doing some more. And it happens with writing more than anything else I can think of.
I bought a PlayStation 3 the other week. It’s a diverting machine. Since I got it, I’ve ploughed too many hours into blatting terrorists. 15 maybe. Now, I write pretty quickly – so that’s 15 hours I wasn’t putting 15,000 words down on paper. Screen. (Long hand is a strange practice. How does writing with a single pointed end beat writing with eight pointed fingers?)
The problem being, I’ve loved every minute. Even the American kids calling my mother names. Especially winning – and particularly the levelling up.
So I get to wondering if I don’t write more because writing doesn’t have a levelling up system. After all, it’s two-tier (unpublished/published) till you’re published, when it turns about five-tier (self-published/small press published/major house published/award winning/Dan Brown).
For now, the rewards are scant. The rewards are fleeting. You don’t get a funny logo next to your name, or extra weapons, or recognition, or a place on a leaderboard. And because you’re not levelling up, you’re also kind of anonymous. Swilling about. Which means that, besides ambition, it gets harder to go back to that paper. That keyboard. Harder when you leave it too long. Harder when you get there.
I’m not saying I don’t like writing. Mostly I love it, actually. But when you love something, it doesn’t take much for it to upset you. One sentence out of twenty scans weirdly, and then you’re stropping and stamping and binge-eating cheese. One word of writing stumps you – or maybe one clause – and you wish you could do dying instead.
Your console, unfortunately for writing, is always there. It has FUN and FORGET LIFE on the box. It’s there to fill your eyes and brains with silicon-chip heroin. It doesn’t make you mad, it doesn’t really challenge you and it never unbalances your mood. Having thoroughly researched the novel I just finished, I remember that white supremacists call things like this ‘garrison games’. Distractions. The upshot being your writing becomes the camp fire at 2am. Basically, it’s going out if don’t you lob sticks at it.
You can see the embers. The ash turning out. And the Fear of Doing says, Go on, you whingeing nobber, clear off and kill terrorists. Writing can wait till tomorrow – like writing always does. And so you do. So it does. The pad in your hands, plus a compulsive, numbing feeling. No words apart from what you call those American kids.
Which is why I’ve written this.
Just to check.