I think a lot of writers share the gift/curse of uncertainty.
After all, if you’re absolutely certain about everything, you’re not really questioning anything, are you? And if you don’t question anything, you’re probably not that interested, and if you’re not interested, well, no one else is gonna be, so you might as well stop writing and go into politics.
Yup, if writers tend to be good at one thing, it’s questioning bloody everything. Always curious, always asking why, whilst at the same time being OK with never quite knowing the answer.
For me, one of the strange outcomes of uncertainty is that I seem to be able to perform astonishing psychological acrobatics.
One of my special talents for example, is believing that my writing might just be the best thing that’s ever been written, whilst simultaneously being certain that it’s absolute crap.
And knowing how capricious my mind can be, doesn’t seem to help either. Nooo. It just makes me even more certain that I can’t be certain of anything.
So when it comes to handing over something I’ve written for someone else to read, how the chuffing Nora can I be certain it’s any good?
I think I’ve finally come to the conclusion that I can’t.
Sure, everyone will have varying opinions, but it’s likely they’ll be very different to the ones you thought they’d have.
It’s a feeling of uncertainty on a par with walking into a party with your tackle out.
It’s scary and exciting and important you don’t get too close to the bowl of chipolatas when dear old Mabel is greedily filling her plate.
But despite the trepidation, Tommy, Bairdy and I, have decided to force each other to release from captivity the tiny, fragile word-chicks of our minds, to see if they can survive in the big wide world.
Because maybe we’ve been looking at this all wrong.
You see, ultimately, if the thing you’ve written isn’t any good, then the number of people who are going to end up reading it is so negligible, surely it doesn’t really matter?
Move onto the next project.
On the other hand, if the book is so super-popular it generates its own tornado of hate, then frankly who cares? You’ve got yourself a bestseller and an advance for your next book. If the bad press bothers you, all you need do is make sure the next one is better written. Look at E L James. Do you think she frets that her books get routinely mocked? Of course not. She’s way too busy typing away in an infinity pool of ass’s milk whilst having her feet massaged by topless, chained up, oily male-models.*
So let’s make a pact. Together. Right now. Let’s all vow to lift our little fledglings into the air, and toss them gently skywards. Yes, they might come tumbling ineptly to the ground, but at least we’ll learn something from it. And you never know, they might just fly, and surely both those outcomes are better than staying caged forever in a dark desk drawer?
*This is almost certainly untrue, but it makes me happy to think she’s having a really nice time.