Guest Post: Hannah Returns & Laments, "Writing is hard!"
Note from Sarah: You may remember Hannah's wonderful guest post last year in which she asked, "Has fiction ruined my life?" Well our favorite London teen is back, lamenting that while she loves writing, it's often a frustrating, solitary, crazy-making experience.
Sometime between the ages of four and five I officially decided I wanted to be a writer, and it was a decision I have suffered for ever since.
In some far off ideal world, I would get an idea, I would write down said idea, it would make sense and there would be rainbows, and music would fill the land, and people would dance, and all would be well with the universe. But actually, when I sit down to write, I repeatedly succumb to inept feelings of inadequacy, which rather alarmingly seem to be increasingly growing in abruptness, preventing me from feeling like I am progressing.
I think the first problem is that I set my goals too high.
It’s just that I feel like I would be able to write the best books in the world if I could just expand on some of the half formulated ideas that dwell within the confinements of this 18 year old cranium to their full potential. To me, it seems as though there is a vast ocean of unwritten novels that sloshes inside my thoughts, and in theory, I should be able to salvage handfuls of them whenever I feel like it.
But, any attempts to document the fistfuls of stories that I have somehow managed to acquire (mostly by blindly grasping onto the tails of the half articulated ideas that sometimes, quite unexpectedly, dart through my mind) never seem to turn out to how I want them to. No matter what, they never manage to amount to the quality I expect them to uphold. Maybe it is because the process of writing is simply just incompatible with my perfectionist streak; perhaps if I just simply wrote, and stopped measuring the results to the inaccessible expectations I created for myself--back when I was still wearing bright pink Barbie mittens and had just mastered the ability to spell my own name correctly nonetheless--I would realise what I can compose is actually much better than what I believed it to be in those 3:00am moments of cripplingly disheartening blurry-eyed notepad sessions. However, for some ungodly reason I have chosen to do what is clearly the illogical: aim for the highest form of perfection and then get infinitely frustrated when I cannot obtain it.
The other problem is, like any form of art, writing is not like manual labour (although it feels like it is sometimes).
By that I mean it is not something you can do for the same amount of time each day and expect to always produce the same quantity, or progress to the same point. It is instead completely self-indulgent and all to do with the mindset of the creator. Some days I wake up and, I swear to God, I feel like I could write an intricately structured 12 book series by lunchtime, and other days I feel as though I could not possibly be trusted to even write an adequate sentence, and I hate the English language for being so hard to paint pictures with.
I have slowly started to realise that one of the things that comes with being a writer is that it must be understood that anything I produce will eventually be an entity of its own. It will not be mine, and thus it cannot be measured by my own standards. It will instead be sent out into the world to have relationships with people I will never know about. While some will hate it, others may adore it, and that is the beauty of opinions.
It would seem that in actuality, all stands in my way of completing a novel or a piece of writing I can be proud of is my own unreasonable stubbornness. Though I irritate myself, I keep trying to write to spite that other part of myself, the occupant of a small corner of my mind who is forever whispering ‘give up and watch New Girl and eat jaffa cakes; it’s a lot less infuriating than trying to write something up to your own ridiculous standards ’
Will it be worth it you ask? Well, we will have to wait and see. (Hopefully yes!)
Hannah Renton is a 18-year old aspiring novelist from London, England. Her love of stories and books originated from her father reading her the Harry Potter books—complete with funny voices for all the characters—when she was about six because she was too little to be able to read them by herself. From then on, she has been reading everything she can get her hands on.