Sunday 21 December 2008

Jobbing Writing

I talked at length about this yesterday with my students. It is perfectly possible to make a living as a writer, love writing and still end up hating your work. You may be spending your time writing one thing when you’d rather be writing something else.

However, even when we get the dream commission, we have to write to the market. And it is indeed rare that any book gets past a skilled editor completely intact, and you wouldn’t really want a less skilled editor. There’s always some more tinkering to do according to somebody else’s will.

I’m probably grumpy about this at the moment because I’m writing something which is a little tedious. It’s a non-fiction book, a resource for teachers, in fact, and has to be in very plain English – with some French thrown in, and has repetitive patterns. And it is about something I believe in passionately.

I’m just at that point a little over half way through, where you still feel as if you’ve got a lot left to do. Plus I fell over the other day – tripped over thin air in fact –and now have a really colourful eye and a few sore parts elsewhere, all of which takes the edge off life . Plus having to explain to everyone what happened is another pain.

Then the magic kicks in, despite everything. You become absorbed in the work. It comes out well. You don’t want to stop when it’s time to go and do something else. You do have the self-discipline to get down to the work despite yourself, but it helps knowing that it will always work.

That, I guess, is jobbing writing.

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