Writing – a risky business

Got an idea? A vision for a novel, a piece of art, a business enterprise? Be primeval, be stupid, don’t think ­– act. That’s the advice given by Steven Pressfield in his book Do The Work.

This struck a chord with me the other day when I was wondering whether or not to upload one of my children’s stories onto my blog. I’d already written and uploaded two similar stories a few months ago, and had a very positive response from a handful of friends who have young kids – which always makes the accompanying tumbleweeds from the world at large easier to bear.

Anyway, the reason I was dithering is because I don’t really write children’s fiction. I write mainstream women’s fiction and have been selling my novels on Amazon since February 2012. I’ve never really had any interest in writing children’s fiction, but I make up short stories to tell my kids at bedtime often enough. It was only when they started demanding more stories about the same character – Fartina Gasratilova – that I thought I might as well have a go at writing them down and seeing if anyone else’s kids enjoyed them.

So what’s the big deal about uploading a few children’s stories to your blog? you may ask. Well here I am, trying to build up a credible name as a writer of women’s fiction, and then I go and upload stories about Fartina Gasratilova – a child who suffers from chronic wind – to my blog. The name in itself is enough to make many people cringe. And if I dwell on that thought for too long, the downward spiral of Resistance, as Steven Pressfield calls it, begins.

Resistance takes many forms, including the fear of what others will think. Allow me to demonstrate by sharing a few of my self-destructive thoughts (finally, something I excel at):

Fartina Gasratilova is such a vulgar name – how did you come up that? Because you’re vulgar, obviously. Will other people wonder if you’re writing from experience? Will they think you’re a vulgar, flatulent, toilet humour-obsessed joke? Is anyone reading your crapfest of a blog anyway? Hah! Exactly! So you might as well upload it and eat tumbleweed.

Dingalingaling! Round 2: So it turns out there’s a porn star called Fartina somewhere out there who specialises in…let’s not go there. Bloody great. No wonder I’ve had more traffic on my blog. And why are lots of erotica writers suddenly retweeting my promotions for Package Deal? It’s a beach read, not a bonkbuster! I thought it was generous of them, and then, suddenly the penny drops: Oh My God! My book titles! How have I not seen this before? Package Deal, Hot Property, Pearls… and my latest WIP, heaven have mercy: Blown-Away Man. Aaargh!

So my husband took pity on me and shoved Steven Pressfield’s book under my nose. One of Pressfield’s many golden nuggets of advice is: act, don’t think (clearly I managed to achieve this already with my book titles). Anyway, as I read his book, I pictured myself wearing earplugs and horse blinkers, blindly carrying on with my potentially rubbish ideas, and it felt good. I can’t tell you how nice it feels to have someone grant me permission to be stupid and not give a shit what anyone else thinks. I feel a little more confident now to carry on taking risks. Some will die a sad humiliating death, but there’s no reason why others shouldn’t flourish.

I was further comforted by a documentary on David Bowie on BBC4 the other night: ten years of epic fails before he came up with Ziggy Stardust! Who knew? Nice to know someone as iconic as Bowie made a tit out of himself too, once upon a time.