Thursday, January 6, 2011

On authorship

I gazed out of the window, biting my lip for inspiration. It didn't help. An article on insect repelling plants, of all things... and I was pretty sure they wouldn’t settle for the truth either. I brushed away a fly and wrote: ‘Although flies are ubiquitous, they are said to be repelled by mint.’

‘Said to’ was the right phrase, I decided, sourly eying the fly, which had settled on a leaf of the potted mint plant on my desk and was busily and mock-obsequiously washing its hands. ‘Bastard’ I thought, without much malice and then turned back to my computer screen to re-read what I had written so far.

Deciding that it was good enough despite containing a number of careful statements comparable to the fly fallacy, and that all it needed now was a bit of padding and a closing paragraph, I sighed and decided to leave it as it was for the moment. I’ve always wanted to be a writer, but all I do is to churn out mendacious thousand-worders on gardening, heavy on the adjectives and without a vestige of art or humor.

I’d like to write something that contained both. Something artful, but funny, something amusing that was nevertheless full of flowing and expressive language, something meaningful that, at the same time, didn’t take itself too seriously. I’d like to write something that I actually finished. It’d be even better if I actually liked what I’d written. It’d be best of all if I had the faintest idea what to write about.

If only I had a muse: an idle thought. Besides being mythical and metaphorical, I have a notion that muses are personified by willowy girls who would have a natural preference for men, and if willowy girls started to take an interest in me, I'd run a mile - if muses existed, which they don’t.

The truth is: I’m mediocre. Never tell anyone I said so, for I’ll deny it forcefully. There are no absolutes about me. I’m clever, but far from brilliant, a little eccentric, but not properly mad (perhaps I should be glad of that one), creative, but not particularly talented, attractive, but not gorgeous… the list could go on and on.

I’d like to be a writer, but I’m probably not ‘absolute’ enough to get it right. I couldn’t write absolute trash, it would annoy me, but I also can’t write anything particularly good. I've a suspicion I’d never have the tenacity to write a whole book. I’ve tried before, but I hate the thing before I’ve hit chapter three and then its recycle bin time.

Sigh. Perhaps someday…

Today's pic: Dierama pulcherrima - nuff said


  1. Good morning my time Andrea! You know damn well this is well written and with enough intellibent words to awaken the synopsis without sending me to the dictionary. So, you are a "Garden writer"?, writing about gardens? or garden variety writer, average? If you know flowers and fertilizers, the occasional vegetable and obnoxious weeds, then you have the scene set for a novel already! We just need some blood to make it interesting, say, "Murder in the Garden"? or maybe "Naked in the Garden". That might be a better read!
    You have the skills and the story is in you, you just need a good title.

  2. Mint repels flies better when it's on fire.

  3. Well, your anything but mediocre. I'm a little jeolous of your writings at times (I think you are so darn good) see, all of us have those times when we feel short comings in our lives. Clever, eccentric, creative, attractive...your list sounds absolutely perfect to me. Write short stories and put them all into a book. I have faith in you, that you'll find your writing niche. Maybe just need a smaller goal to begin with. And I agree with Stonepost, your post is very well written. Hell, all your posts are a delight to read.

  4. I would like to share the advice I give myself when whatever creative project I've started seems hopeless and hideous: Things always look awful before they look amazing. At this point, it's best to just plow through the awfulness and hope for the other side to emerge. Kind of like cleaning your gets so much messier until it's clean again. Maybe you really are a talented novelist....

  5. Let's go have a cup of coffee together, OK? Cause what I have to tell you isn't for a comment section on your blog. Well- here's the short version:
    I'm not going to give you a pep talk because you don't need it. I'm not going to tell you what a gifted writer you are because you already know it in your soul. I'm not going to give you advise on "how to" because that's the last thing you really want to hear.
    As your BIGGEST fan (and I'll take on everyone else here for that title) I can only say-- get to work dammit.

  6. Ditto on what's already been said in the other comments. I must admit since reading your blog I've been a little envious of your writing abilities too.

    That said we are always our own worst critics, it's impossible to see our work the way another would.

  7. MM for the second time I have done a comment well after my 'normal' bed time only to have it 'disappear' into cyber space. Maybe because it was totally inappropriate!!
    I love the flower in thed picture and would love to know what it is as I find many of the species that do well in your country thrive in Australia.
    Unlike StonePost I actually require a dictionary, at times, to fully understand your written word and I like that.
    Being totally honest, I love and appreciate your eclectic style and admit to feeling slightly envious at times. After reading your posts I go away and think about how I can improve my own.
    I am so grateful to you for the contribution you make to my life.

  8. Stonepost: I like being in gardens, but I switch off my horticulture gland when I'm off work!

    Grant: Now why didn't I think of that?

    Clipped wings: That's jolly good advice! Now if only I can persuade myself to like my short stories! Perhaps I'll post one and send everyone to sleep with it.

    Ajax: Also good advice. Wish I was more inclined to persevere with it though

    PAMO: Thanks for the pep talk! So when are we going to have that coffee? I've always thought it would be nice to have a chinwag and coffee with you.

    TK: You're right! I think everyone sees things wrong with themselves and the things they produce. Like when I play music: all I hear are the mistakes!

    Chez: Its a lovely flower, and it grows on a spike that's taller than me. Dierama pulcherrima. There are also species which aren't as tall. Obsucre vocabluary: a vice of mine, blush, sorry. And Chez? Your writing is so moving - don't change!

  9. Oh Andrea, you have been down in the dumps haven't you? I'm sorry now for not being around. Not that I have any special healing powers, but I'd have reminded you of how often in the past you've chided me for doing the very same thing - having a "downer" on my writing. I've never witnessed you in the act of writing, but I'm aware of how quickly and smoothly your thoughts flow onto the page. You are a natural. Believe it.