Metamorpho/My Journey/Me Me Me

Not this one.

I’ve been thinking a great deal over the past few weeks how things change(d). Really, selfishly, specifically about how much I’ve changed over the past few years. So I thought I’d share.
When I started out writing, many years ago, I wanted to be a decent freelance journalist. And I did ok at that. But then I started writing fiction and fell in love with it, despite – and I think this is important – not having a bloody clue what I was doing. I wrote horror at the beginning. Odd things. An awful, awful, AWFUL novel about cloning Jesus (it’s true and if writing it hadn’t made me a better writer I’d almost be ashamed of it). Then I discovered children’s literature. And I think it was at that point that my writing changed. It got better. Actually it got good. And I was starting to be published regularly.  I think that editors were prepared to put their name to what I’d produced, that they felt it was good enough, was a hugely important thing for me. That validation gave me confidence.
And then I wrote a children’s book, which was published. I was an author at last. It was then that I started blogging and running workshops – doing different things. Living as a writer, or at least pretending to. I toured the book, met readers. Got to talk about writing to people who were interested in it. I was asked to start a writing group (which is still going). I grew a beard. (Actually the beard growing was an accident: I’d finished an exhausting stint of appearances and, once I’d finished I got back to writing and simply didn’t shave and one day discovered I had a beard.)
The next stage, I think, could well be the most important one, and it provided me with a realisation. 
I read Aimee Bender’s Wilful Creatures and I discovered Etgar Keret; both of whom I instantly fell in love with (possibly, as friends might tell you, quite literally in Aimee’s case!). And it was being exposed to these writers (and others), to short stories that made me realise that it was the short form that I loved, and that I naturally leaned towards, even in the longer things I’d written. Everything, structurally, seemed to be short story in shape.
So I gave up on the novel I’d been working on and decided to just write short things for a while. And as soon as I’d done this I remember saying to one of my best friends in writing that it felt like I’d come home. I was comfortable (in a good, not a lazy or complacent, way) and I was having fun. Things fitted. It was all terribly hard work and frustrating (par for the writing course) and rejection filled (par again) but it felt right and natural and, well, good and soon the successes started to come (though not enough and not as quickly as I’d like – so it goes). Also, I think it meant that I understood my writing better, which has helped.
And do you know what occurred to me earlier? In all that time, from pretty much before the blog was born, I’ve not had a rest.
It’s a strange thing looking back at that cocky twenty-two year old greenhorn, with his clean shaven face and bags of energy and confidence, now I’m older and tired and striving to be good as opposed to be published (as I said over at the lovely Caroline Smailes’ blog: I think that writing good stuff will lead to publication anyway and being published is really important to me). And it’s strange to see how much has changed, in my approach to writing, the hours I keep – and personally, in the relationship I lost, the friends I fell out with, the new ones I’ve made, how much I’ve achieved and how much I’ve missed. And, more importantly, how much I’ve learned.
But that’s me. This is what I do. And, as hard as it is, I love it.
I do need a break though. It’s just that there’s so much exciting stuff to do.

11 Comments on “Metamorpho/My Journey/Me Me Me

  1.  by  Tania Hershman

    It's a wonderful thing sometimes to take a step back and say, "Look! That's where I was and this is where I am, wow!". It's almost always rewarding, and I love to think that a year ago, I would never have dreamed I'd… etc… etc.. It's lovely to hear you feel you've found your place, writing-wise, where you fit. That's the main thing: acceptances are only joyous, I find, when you first love what you've written yourself. If you were writing "for" something or someone and it wasn't your true passion, it might provide monetary reward, but perhaps not more. Anyway, I take full credit for introducing you to Aimee, perhaps only through her books right now, but in a year's time you might be saying, "Look! Who knew that in a year…etc..etc..!"PS Have a holiday. You deserve it!

  2.  by  Jo Bell

    Rest is very much over-rated. Writing concisely and well, less so. Any fool can rest – you have more important things to do! Keep on keeping on.

  3.  by  annie clarkson

    Wow, so much achieved. It's interesting hearing you reflect on how you have changed, developed, progressed… I feel the same about short fiction, like coming home, definately…

  4.  by  Vanessa Gebbie

    Isn't it true that you only see how far you've come when you stop and look back? But you also see the things left at the side of the road, deliberately or not – and that is tough, sometimes. I know I have changed hugely in the five/six years I have been writing fiction. But I now realise I have completely missed out on two very important things.1) I still have not read Aimee Bender.and2) I still have not managed to grow a beard.V

  5.  by  Megan

    Hi Nik,Very good to hear your story. And even better to know you've found the writing that works best for you. I totally agree it's all about striving to get better – always (whatever disappointments and breakthroughs may occur along the way)Hats off to you sir and all the very, very best,Megan

  6.  by  Sarah Hilary

    Great post, Nik, full of the quiet joy of this writerly life without any whiff of complacency. Would you say growing a beard was a subconscious part of Becoming a Serious Writer? Is there a version for females??

  7.  by  Nik Perring

    Thanks Tania. The thing that I didn't say, and that I don't think people have picked up on, is that I'm not where I thought I'd be 5 years ago either, but maybe that's another post! And thank you thank you for introducing me to Aimee's work – life changer!Pleasure, Sophie – lovely to see you here.Jo – all true. I shall keep on…Lauri – convoluted is the word! Never one to do things the easy way! Annie – thank you. Coming home's exactly what it feels like – glad you do too.Very true, V. Very true. Bit like a walk isn't it? Aimee is wonderful, V. (Swoon.) I think beards are optional. ;)Thanks Megan – cool to see you here. No point standing still, is there?Thanks Sarah. Do you know, it might well be; definitely not a choice though. Hmm. I wonder. And if there is a version for females I'd love to know what it is…Nik

  8.  by  annie clarkson

    Just re-visited this blog, looking for inspiration, wondering whether I could give up the day job and write full-time. Lots of thoughts, be good to talk to you about them over tea and cake.

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