Admission is often hard. Before the actual words involved have a chance to scratch and scrape the throat as they make their escape run, the mind will go to extraordinary measures to prevent their release. Diversion. Distraction. Entire fabricated histories to convince you that the truth has no validity are all common tactics.
For years I have labelled myself a simple hack. Accepted my own lack of talent. Dodged all those compliments paid to my writing. Yet last week, sitting in Mr. Dedopolus’s Life On Mars Towers living room, the words finally broke out. “I am actually quite a good writer.”
The statement probably sounds like rampant self-importance. Public preening. A shameful example of a writer’s bloated sense of his own value. Yet it is not. It is a shocking and painful revelation to me that on occasion I am quite good. A lot of people have been right for years and I have been wrong. I am repeating it on the blog as both apology and communal declaration so that there can be no backsliding from me.
The words said destroy my excuse for not attempting several projects. They corrode the sense that I fall so short of the genius of certain writer friends that I would embarrass myself to even attempt a novel. The admission obliterates my capacity to take on a commission to turn out crap just to pay the bills.
For an alcoholic, honesty is the first stage in an ending denial and putting down the bottle. For me, honesty means turning down £3,500 advance against royalties to write what would be an appalling 1001 book. Yes I could knock out 80,000 words on financial ruination in less than three months, but I now know I should not.
Flesh is finite. The meat cage is the ultimate prison. If I aimed to write a book per year for the rest of my life I would at best only produce 30 titles. Admitting that on a good day, I can actually write means it would be an appalling waste of me, as well as trees, to write anymore bad gear. I will now have to find some other way to finance Syrian adventures.