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Monday, 7 March 2011

The Flashing Smoke Alarm

My weekend away was marred by an multitude of issues from the weather to illness to stress monkeys flapping around my head like something out of a Disney cartoon. However, by far and away the most irritating aspect of the break was the fact that in my hotel room there was a smoke alarm. And it flashed. All night. At ten second intervals. It was right above the bed and on the second night I resorted to wrapping a sock (clean, before you ask!) around my eyes to better block it from view. Still, I was aware it was there, and it permeated everything.

That got me thinking. I've had a few false starts with the writing in the last few weeks. The desire to swiftly mould a new idea into a novel came and was partially repressed. Then PhD stuff took absolute precedence, which it may need to do for a while. However, I've now realised what my inner flashing smoke alarm is: publication, or fear thereof.

Don't get me wrong, like most aspiring writers being published is the Holy Grail for me. But I'm normal (so I read) in that it scares the hell out of me. And, while I'm sat at my computer trying to force magic words from my fingertips, it transforms into a little voice which repeats my doubts to me, annoying in my own rational voice. I find it hard to argue with that voice because I'm forced to trust it on so many other things. But, in order to push myself forward, I have to ignore it. Otherwise this fourth draft will not get finished and I then have no hope of getting published. That's simple and that's fact. Everything else my own personal alarm is telling me is rubbish.

It whispers that I'm not good enough to write. Okay, well, I need to let other people decide that because I've come to this point and I wouldn't have got here without a little encouragement and self-belief. The last thing I need to lose at this point is the self-belief.

It tells me I haven't got time to do this. Funnily enough, I already know that. I'm balancing precariously on the edge here, but, short of falling off the precipice, there's nothing I can do about it. If something has to give then it will have to be forcibly taken from me.

I don't want to fail. But I might. One thing's for sure though, I shouldn't let a niggling flash of doubt keep me up all night and plague me with headaches the next day. If a sock doesn't suffice to keep the doubts out then I'll find something thicker. Perhaps a piece of carpet?

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