You know those days when it has to rain and doesn’t. People say ‘It feels like rain’ but nothing happens. The sky is heavy and colourless, the air clammy. Nothing can be right again until it has rained. That’s what it’s like inside my head. Not writing makes me miserable. But writing is hard and the process of doing it makes me miserable sometimes. Creative writing is not my job, so many people’s response to my pained complaint that I haven’t written with a look that says ‘And?’ Why should it matter? It’s only a hobby after all. Try knitting or, better still, join a gym. I said this to the lovely CF and she said: ‘Don’t they think you’d choose something easier if it was just a hobby? Tap dancing is a hobby.’ (Personally, I found tap dancing very hard when I attempted it aged 13.) Writing is a compulsion. When it goes well it can be satisfying, but still you have to get over the hurdle of believing that it’s going well. How can you tell? It never seems to come out quite as well as you thought it possibly might. There is always something you can improve. You put it down and pick it up an hour, a week, a year later and realise all the things that are wrong with it – and how utterly shit you are as a writer. But you keep picking it up and you keep trying something new because you must. Although sometimes, the hurdle of insecurity is so enormous that you can’t get over it. In fact you are paralysed by the certainty that any attempt to do so will bring pain and humiliation (not unlike my attempt at running the 200m hurdles at school sports day). This blog in itself is an exercise in overcoming the critic in my head who says: ‘They’ll laugh. You’ll reveal how crap you are. You have nothing to say. And you’ll say it badly. You know your command of grammar can be shaky. And all those clichés.’ My critic has a lot to say for himself and never knows when to shut up. If I can do this to fight the bastard perhaps it will build my muscles and help me to get him on the ropes (cliché alert).