(image from Box Hill South Neighourhood House Writer's Group)
It was astoundingly interesting to learn from them about this roller-coaster journey that they have both been on emotionally and how they have coped with it. They also talked about how long it takes to get that book, the story that began so long ago, to actually appear in the bookshop, if at all. It was interesting to learn that both of them have been through an incredibly dark, self-doubting period, I am begin to understand that this prevalence of self-doubt is throughout the writing world (maybe not amongst the Peter Carey's of the world...).
Alec coined the phrase of 8 years of being in a basement and Amra talked about a difficult period of writing where she felt like she lost her writing voice due to the physical need to switch from hand writing to writing on the computer. It somehow made "real" writers, published writers feel so much more real, more like me, the novice, amateur writer, where there are periods where words don't come easily, self doubt creeps in, and the page looms. I learnt and understood that it is a process that needs to be pursued, and that one has to exercise the writing muscle every day to get better and to remind yourself that you are a writer. Emilie has been telling us this for about 4 years, but is reassuring to hear it from others.
Am I doing it yet? No not yet, but I am getting better, and that is part of the process.
It is reassuring to see authors with published books having the same struggles; authors with the names on books in bookshops, who have worked for maybe 10 years to get a book out from the start of an idea, who might have edited it for 2 years with a book that has a cover picture that is not really their choice.
I think that it is incredibly valuable to be involved in a writing group; to learn, and to go writing workshops, to read other writers work and learn from what we are reading, to be flexible about our writing, about what is and is not working and to be open to feedback. We also need to be thoughtful about who we give our work to for feedback so that we are not crushed by the feedback.
Having said all that, I am really looking forward to my next couple of workshops at the Williamstown Literary Festival. I am doing the Secret & Lies and Editing workshops. I really love the feeling of being around other people who write and talking about writing and also not being asked "What genre do you write?" I just write!