|Big Nose starts his walk.|
So let me tell you about the Mad Farmer. Yesterday, when walking the Big Nose, we took the same path as always, but on the way up the slope in the second meadow, Big Nose got all excited. A long white leg had come through the hedge to touch him. This long white leg was attached to a beautiful Brittany spaniel who was attached to a shouty man on a quad bike. Mad Farmer.
Apparently Big Nose and I were on the wrong side of the field. Rather than do a circumference of the field, we should have walked to the stile, turned and walked back. The path isn’t marked in that way and to be honest, I didn’t consult any maps, just village advice when I started taking this walk. In general, I’m quite open to correcting my mistakes if you’re respectful of my ignorance.
Mad Farmer began our relationship by screaming at me, soon followed by his female companion screaming also. Someone who goes from zero to sixty in a fraction of a second, well he’s already made his mind up that I’m no good. Worse, I couldn't see either of them through the bushes. So I ignored them, walked up the wrong side of the field, quad bike and shouty couple on the other side of the hedge until I crossed the stile and went home. I felt bad about their treatment of me for the rest of the day.
|Big nose off the path.|
I took that bad-feeling energy and wrote Mad Farmer into a scene in a humourous way, a little joke about what’s really a nasty piece of work. That didn’t make the bad feeling go away, but it did do something productive with it. And this morning, Mad Farmer & Co are another funny story.
Coincidentally, I’m at that point when a long term piece is being turfed out into the world. There’s a whole lot of feelings balled up in that, but the icky one is, what happens if this doesn’t go anywhere? What do I do next? Is it time to give this all up?
The Butler said the most amazing thing to me. You keep writing. Isn’t he the perfect writer’s spouse? Truly. But his advice is perhaps the hardest in the world to follow. Being a writer sometimes feels like swimming through chocolate pudding. It’s a really big sacrifice to swim and not eat the pudding, cuz I love my chocolate. By this I mean, the time I spend writing is time away from all the other wonders in life, with perhaps not all the gratification a lot of other jobs provide.
I get discouraged, even with a Butler. That discouragement more than anything else – poverty, colicky babies, a deluge of rejections coming through the mail slot – that will kill your writing.
Earlier this week, I met a villager whom I’d only spoken to at a New Year’s Eve party. She’s dog sitting and wanted to compare notes. She knew I worked from home because I’m rather visible in my Writing Closet, but she didn’t know what I did. I said, I’m a writer. I saw it in her brain, the churning Do I Know You question. That usually doesn’t turn out well. So then I said, Not a very successful one. I do it because it’s what I want to do.
Part of me said, what are you apologising for? I don’t apologise for my gardening efforts or my knitting efforts or the fact my outfits never match. But, I’m glad I said it because a really neat thing happened next. All the muscles in the woman’s face opened up and she smiled. She made some comment which said, that’s really wonderful that you’re doing what you want to do with your life.
It’s really wonderful and brave that you’re writing. If this is the only sentence of this blog you remember, then keep it close. Just that sentence. Because it’s true.
Long distance swimmers have people in boats to protect them from drowning, people shouting from the shore that yes indeed they will make it. And if they get attacked by jellyfish, they get medical care. Writers, some days all we have are Mad Farmers on the other side of the hedgerow screaming abuse. The people on the shore tell us to get a real job. The ones in the boats laugh at us. When we get stung by rejections, no first aid. Just those looks which say, you should’ve stayed out of the water.
Think of the hardest thing you’ve ever done or had to endure. Not something small. The BIG one. Think of that right now. Think of the strength it took you to get through that. You’re pretty remarkable, aren’t you? You are. That quality alone is something you should share. And you do that most effectively through your writing.
Don’t let them stop you from writing, those Mad Farmers of the world. Write. Write. Write. And keep writing.