I am a bout writer; I don’t mean I write about anything in particular, more that I am a lay about for much of the time. I shuffle uncomfortably and look shifty when students or people at parties tell me that real writers write every day. I don’t write about anything at all for months on end. I talk about writing a bit and I am guilty about not writing a lot. Then suddenly I am in thrall to a story and I can’t stop.
I am obsessed at the moment. I’ve written 40,000 words in a fortnight – a confession rather than a boast – as I don’t really see how it could possibly be any good. I wake up thinking about the story, I go to bed dreaming about it. When I walk the dog, my characters are arguing with each other in my head. Last night I had to go to bed early, exhausted and emotionally drained. I’d spent the day awash with real adrenaline as I tortured my imaginary protagonist.
I cannot rest until the story is done. There is no food in the house. I forget to walk the dog. I am avoiding social engagements; I resent time spent away from my desk. I am lost to this world. I would love to claim the story is a masterpiece, but I’m obsessed not deluded. I know that once it is finished I will lose all interest in it. Obviously I will be disappointed if it doesn’t sell, but I won’t be devastated. I will keep it on my shelves in a binder for a while, but only until I need the binder for something else. It will be over for me, my passion will be spent the moment it is done.
Like a bout drinker, a bout writer is sober in between times. In a week or two I will wonder at the compulsion that gripped me. There will be food in the house and I will walk the dog conscientiously. I will talk about writing a bit and be guilty about not writing a lot – until the next time.