I’m going to the franschhoek literary festival this weekend. for the first time ever. i guess this year i don’t mind so much, since i’m actually writing my first book. the thing is, everybody always makes out like going to these booky affairs is what one does if one writes – writes words, writes books, writes writings that they want the world to see.
going to booky events was always a bit like walking into book stores: intimidating.
the masses of books, the sheer enormity of apparent accomplishment, is usually just too much of a mountain for my little ego and its molehill of stories started and mostly not completed.
book events? fuggedaboutit.
also. i’ve never found hearing about anyone’s opinion on how to write worthwhile (except stephen king’s on writing. that’s bloody life-changing stuff right there. thanks cindy.), and if the books intimidate me, the authors would infuriate me in their ‘oh, look, i have a book out now’, been-there-done-that kinda attitude of … of … well … brave non-procrastination.
damn them to hell.
now here we are. it’s publish or perish time and i’m smashing out my word counts er’day er’day.
i’d like to say that i rose above my small petty jealousies of other people’s accomplishments to come to a place of peace and writerly wisdom.
but i didn’t. nope. not me.
all that energy tied up in feeling insecure and challenged, infuriated, jealous and aghast has come in very handy in getting me off my bottom and actually doing the work.
it all started two years ago with a visit to morla, as many of my revelations do.
i was on my way to her practice when i saw news of a local writer’s Next Big Thing. god i was mad. mad as hangry toddler. and about as composed.
i sat down with morla and laid it all on the table. i had these ‘bad’ feelings, i told her, and only bad people have bad feelings like this.
‘like what?’ she asked
‘ah,’ she nodded. ‘and what does that look like to you?’
well blow me down if the image that came up wasn’t an old-school witchy, cackling hag. the kind that might dance around pots of boiling goo with her other witchy friends, scheming up fun spells and howling at the moon.
i quite liked it. because a witchy witch can stir up trouble – and magic up treasure.
you see, morla pointed out something very true. jealousy in and of itself is not a ‘bad’ feeling. it is simply a feeling that points you in the direction you should be going. especially when it comes to career/passion stuff. it’s a signpost, see? let me explain.
i’m surrounded by incredibly successful people, who bring in the big bucks, rub all the right shoulders and own their own businesses.
and i am super chilled about it and proud of them.
‘oh you became ceo?! well done you!’
‘you opened your own restaurant?! SO proud!’
‘you’re driving a new merc to your wonderful new penthouse in camps bay!? let’s party friend!’
‘oh you’re flying where and where now for six-month holiday? how awesome for you!’
none of their success gets up my nose. i’m not suddenly like ohemgee i wish i were a coms specialist or a chef or an advertising person.
oh, dot, did you see so and so brought out a new bo—
WHAAAAAATT ARRRGH KILL ME NOW WHAT THE HELL IS THE INJUSTICE IN THE WORLD?!
ha ha ha
luckily i’m over that now.
for reals though. i went where my jealousy was pointing me and now i am writing my own book. which, i’ve found, is way more productive than screaming self-pity into the void.
it’s not that i don’t ever get pangs of ‘srsly guys wtf’ every now and then. it’s not that i don’t have to make a conscious effort to remember that writing and playing the publishing game are often confused for the same thing.
it’s just that every time that witchy woman comes calling i take it as a sign that i’m spending too much time trawling the interwebs and comparing instead of writing.
i’m hoping that this first excursion into where the booky people are doesn’t feel so alien that i could never find a comfortable resting place there.
wish me luck.