I need to write like I bake. I am no Nigella, but I make good cakes. I find the process so easy that I am genuinely shocked if someone tells me that they can’t make a cake or I taste the evidence of their ineptitude in a particularly dry piece of sponge. How can you not bake a cake? Chuck in a few ingredients according to a very basic recipe, mix it up, shove it in the oven, bish bosh, a plate of lovely fairy cakes, crisp on the top, moist and full of vanillary loveliness on the inside. Yum. I made bread for the first time the other day. Dodgy recipe meant a slightly false start when I added all the ingredients according to the instruction in the first line and then read the second line about mixing before adding the water. Water is an ingredient! Still my son and I carried on and the result was some beautifully risen, soft, tasty and a little bit misshapen buns. I take the same approach to making jam and sewing – felt badges, bunting, tea cosies, cuddly toys… The point is that I have no training in any of these creative practices but I love doing them and the results are fine, perfectly acceptable, sometimes even bloody good.
So why don’t I write in the same way? Why do I see a blank page as a threat, not an opportunity, and the idea in my head as a deformed swamp monster? Because I am a fool, that’s why. I need to stop worrying about the perfect first line and the details and what the best friend should be called and whether people will sympathise with my character and what point of view I need and my tone and and and, and write the bloody story. Unlike with a cake, I can edit a story. Writing was a lot more fun when I knew less about how to do it! I need to get back to the bish bosh.
And the second discovery is related to the first. I’m new to this. I am allowed not to be perfect. I can hear you. Of course I’m allowed not to be perfect. There’s no one out there telling me any different. But it’s what I’m telling myself that’s the problem. Writing this was my first step. My challenge to myself now is to start writing my story.
But first a question. I needed to talk to other people to reach a fairly duh conclusion. I think that makes me an extrovert. Is that a problem for a writer? Would other writers out there consider themselves extrovert or introvert, and does it matter?