The post-it notes of a non-writing writer

James Garside
Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

“Writing sustains me. But wouldn’t it be more accurate to say that it sustains this kind of life? Which does not, of course, mean that my life is any better when I don’t write. On the contrary, at such times it is far worse, wholly unbearable, and inevitably ends in madness. This is, of course, only on the assumption that I am a writer even when I don’t write — which is indeed the case; and a non-writing writer is, in fact, a monster courting insanity.”
–Franz Kafka, to Max Brod, July 5, 1922

I’ve no idea how these fragments are all connected — but they are.

The world is not a cat toy for you to play with. The internet is wonderful, but it’s a glitterball of distraction. And you know how much you like shiny things.

You miss your friends, but you need to carve time and space to write. You’re still trying to distinguish in your life between fake connectedness and real connection, both on and offline.

You’re sick of fair-weather friends, but just when you dismiss everyone as being that, a surprising handful of people come through for you in ways that you can’t even begin to express or reciprocate. Although you’re more than willing to give it a go!

It’s disingenuous when writers discourage other people from writing, no matter how badly. Just as it’s maddening when celebrities throw a strop on social media sites because they aren’t met with universal love and approval. Besides, their tweets ARE boring.

You accept that no-one reads your blog and decide that it’s time to pull the plug. Then you’re shocked to receive lovely comments and enjoy interesting discussions with people you’ve never met and probably never will meet.

Conversations about stuff that you care about, and that wouldn’t have been possible in any other medium. And you’re awestruck by that — it means so much more to you than celebrities having hissy fits on the internet.

At the end of the day, it isn’t about any of this at all. It’s just you whingeing because you want to write but feel like life will eat away at you on all sides until there’s nothing left.

Writing is like banging a head full of words against a brick wall made from fear, lack of talent, and blank pages. But if you write in Helvetica Bold, you can do no wrong.

It all comes back to the typewriting monkey. You love the public domain picture that you stumbled across of a typewriting monkey. It’s about writing. It imitates Japanese brush art. And it’s a monkey. So, whaddya think you’d do but love it?!

‘Do Not Disturb — I’m Disturbed Already’ smacks of a million t-shirt designs, but when you place that text alongside the picture, it suggests that a typewriting monkey is a deranged animal. Which is exactly what writers are: deranged monkeys that just want to be left alone, so that we can get our work done.

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NCTJ-qualified British independent journalist, author, and travel writer.


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