This post is automatically categorized as ‘work in progress’, but it shouldn’t be. I’m back at my desk after 10 days away from it, and work is most definitely not progressing. I’ve tidied my son’s room, posted a few feeble tweets, looked to see how many loo-rolls are left in case I need to add them to the shopping list, filled in a new 2014 calendar with people’s birthdays, and made some porridge. Now I’ve got my apron on and am sitting here all ready to embark on Chapter 8 – but something’s stopping me.
What is it that’s so intimidating about a blank page (or screen)? You’d think I’d be used to it by now; that I’d have disciplined myself to march purposely forward and turn the mental key that unlocks the words. This is my 9th book; I’ve been at it for 25 years. (Good grief! Really?).
But it’s always the same. Words are so relentless, so powerful; committing them to paper is daunting, especially when I know that they will be read by people who need to understand both what’s written and what’s meant. All this sounds impossibly pompous, even precious, but it’s genuinely what I feel: that the responsibility for a non-fiction writer to get things right (as for a fiction writer to make things true) should never be taken lightly.
Hang on, though: isn’t this is the perfect way to start? Writing about not being able to write? I can feel my flabby mental muscles beginning to limber up. Thanks, gentle reader. You’ve got me up and running.