My rabbit ate my shoelaces … and other excuses for not writing

Simba

Above: Simba, the Destroyer of Shoes. Don’t be foooled by that cute furry face …

If you are hoping to read one of those inspirational, inspiring blog posts about writing, then I apologise in advance, because this isn’t going to be one of them.

No doubt my zillions of (well, OK, 83) followers will have noticed that I haven’t posted anything for a few weeks. I’d really love to tell you that’s because I’ve been closeted away in my attic, labouring night and day at my latest epic novel and have triumphantly banked a word count that would render the most committed NaNoWriMo disciple speechless with envy.

But I haven’t been doing that either. The truth is, I did virtually no writing in May, beyond my last flash fiction piece. How inspiring is that? What happened?

Life, that’s what. And not all bad stuff. Yes, my rabbit did eat my shoelaces. This morning I went to put on my new work shoes and found the laces half chewed off. It’s my fault for putting them on top of Simba’s cage – the laces must have dangled through, and the aforementioned pet (whose dietary tastes are, shall we say, eclectic) duly helped himself.

But in all honesty, nothing much worse has happened to me than that. Just, you know, stuff. A lot of pretty good stuff too. I’ve been on holiday with my family. My eldest son’s had his tenth birthday. The day job’s has been going OK, and I’ve got two big work trips coming up in the space of three weeks. It was even warm enough here in the UK to dust off the barbeque and kids’ paddling pool a couple of weekends ago (and if you don’t know England in May, you don’t realise how semi-miraculous that is – you just have to make the most of it). In short, it’s all been a bit crazy and it all takes up time.

I did fiddle about a bit with one new book idea, but haven’t (so far) made much progress with it. And that’s one of my problems, as I think I’ve shared before. They say everyone has a book in them – well I’ve had at least two (the ones I’ve actually written so far) and there are lots more ideas teeming around it my head. It’s just that, at the moment, they’re not having much luck in escaping from my head on to paper (or rather, into Word). I’ve developed a worrying tendency to play with ideas for a while and then get bored with them.

Yes, I know writing is hard work and you’ve got to stick at it. As many more disciplined and inspirational bloggers will tell us, you have to make time. You have to prioritise. And truly, I am in violent agreement with them. From writing my novels I know first-hand just how many hours, how much sweat-and-tears (and possibly blood) it takes to wrestle them into fully-formed existence. It’s just that, recently, too many other things have got in the way – or I’ve allowed them to get in the way, perhaps.

But my family is important to me, so is church, my job pays the bills, and even Simba has his place in my schedule (even when – or especially when – he’s vandalising my footwear). I am passionate about writing – my novels were a labour of love for me (a lot of labour and much love) – but it just doesn’t necessarily always come top of the heap. It enriches my life but it doesn’t control it

So should I give myself a break or beat myself up? In the end, I draw comfort from the fact that I can do it – write, that is. Those two novels prove it. I know I’ve got what it takes, that I can summon up the motivation when I have to, and to produce something that I can be proud of and some others enjoy. More books will come out of me – just, perhaps, not quite yet.

7 thoughts on “My rabbit ate my shoelaces … and other excuses for not writing

  1. Me too, I always prioritise my family first and God and work. My husband tells me its time to be a little selfish. That’s the problem it doesn’t come naturally to me and maybe I am procrastinating. so this year i decided, I was going to leave the vacuuming and window washing and focus.Unless there’s a zombie invasion then I’m leaving my keyboard.

    • Thanks. I must admit I sometimes feel a little guilty, though, that unless I pour everything I’ve got into my writing, I won’t make much more progress in it. We’re always told how much effort is involved in improving your craft or getting published, and I wonder if I’m really prepared to make a sufficiently big sacrifice to do so. Although I’ve already put a lot into it. Good luck with your current efforts, and here’s hoping the zombie invasion will be delayed a little longer. (Not that I find that prospect especially scary – I think zombies are pretty pathetic really – I mean, they’re easy to out-run arent’ they?)

  2. I think your priorities are in exactly the right order and place. And what’s the point of writing if you can’t enjoy it? I understand setting a schedule for people who need it, but when the writing becomes a drudgery, how quality will the work really be? I say cut yourself some slack. You know you can do it, so do it when you can.

    • Thanks. I think it’s probably true that you’re more likley to write better when you’re enjoying it – although I also accept that it’s also work and, like all work, sometimes it’s hard and you have to plough through that. My problem recnetly is that I haven’t felt inspired or excited enough about any of my ideas to commit the necessary time and effort to turn them into full-blown, well-edited nowvels – and the thing is, I am no longer under any illusions about just how much time and effort that will be.

      • Yes, the illusion of writing is nice while it lasts. But once that bubble is popped, it can be hard to get and stay motivated knowing how excruciating the process can be. Good luck!

  3. Pingback: Are you a first draft bodger? | Christopher Peter

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