Sharing a flat with 2,000 crazy people, my Friday Guest, Jo Reed

Posted: August 12, 2011 in Friday Guest

Hi – I’m Jo – and I’m a writer … Over the last ten years or so, I’ve met some fantastic writers, either face to face or by email and online contacts. During that time, some have gone on to achieve publishing deals, while others are still awaiting the break their talent deserves. But there is one thing they all have in common – writing is their vocation, their special gift and, regardless of circumstances, they carry on doing it, through thick and thin, good times and bad. Passion drives them, and a day without words on the page is a day not lived. I used to think I was the only person to wake up at 3 in the morning and force myself out of bed to note down that perfect sentence, or refuse to answer the door for days on account of a sudden rush of plot movement ending weeks of verbal constipation.

Some write at dawn, others through the night. Some get inspiration from crowds in cafes, some lock their doors and stay hidden for months. I’m the kind of writer who likes to get feedback as I’m going through a draft, but I know people who will spend years honing a manuscript and keep it in a locked box until the day it appears in print. However and whenever it’s done, the creative process is a bit like giving birth to octuplets a year late and without anaesthetic (or at least I imagine so, only ever having managed a couple of week overdue 9 pounders and not at the same time).

Aside from keeping odd hours, an obsession with words and a masochistic urge to hurl ourselves at the pain barrier over and over again, there seems to be another unifying trait that writers share – a deep reluctance to acknowledge that this is actually what, and who we are. It is as though being a writer is almost a shameful secret, like being an obsessive gambler or a drug addict. Writing isn’t a job – it’s something people do in their spare time because they are too lazy or self-indulgent to do anything useful. We should go to bed at the proper time like everybody else, get up in the morning and behave like other people do. We should spend our evenings/mornings/nights being sociable, going to the pub, to the cinema, or even, if we can’t manage that, watching TV. But writing? That’s just crazy.

Thing is, I’m not sure being crazy is such a bad thing – I share my living room with around two thousand crazy people, and some have been dead for thousands of years. If, in a few hundred years’ time, I’m sharing shelf space in someone’s living room, the whole thing will have been worth it. But for now, it’s just another late night with the phone off the hook.

***

Jo Reed lives and writes in the Southwest of England. She is the author of the Blood Dancers series of novels, published by Wild Wolf Publishing. The first novel in the series, The Tyranny of the Blood, won an Arts Council funded Apprenticeship in Fiction award in 2009, and was published later that year, followed in 2010 by A Child of the Blood. Jo won the Daily Telegraph travel writing prize in 2009, and her short stories have appeared in many national magazines, including Mslexia, The People’s Friendand Lancashire Magazine. Her next Blood Dancers novel, Malim’s Legacy is due for publication in late 2011/2012, and she is currently working on a fifth novel. Visit Jo’s website.

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Comments
  1. Sam says:

    Great blog! Not sure I’d equate obsessive gambling with a burning desire to write though. I know someone who does both and they are driven by totally different demons. Can’t quite see a WA meeting somehow ….’My names Sam and I’m a writer’ On the other hand….

    Cracking guest blog, very well written and acutely observed.

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