My Virtual Reality

One of the things about growing…older, let’s say…and I’m not saying it’s a good thing or a bad thing, is the growing realisation that we’re never going to live in that place that we are convinced is perfect for us, or have the day to day lifestyle that is everything we want.

One consolation for the writer, even if it’s rather a shallow consolation, is the opportunity to write these places and lifestyles for ourselves. For the last year or so, nearly all my creative writing has been rather experimental, which is one reason I’ve not put much up on here. Rather than focusing on writing the complexities of a story arc, I have been very much concerned with the character of the characters I have written, and possibly even more concerned with the environment they occupy.

In a way, then, I’m exploring different versions of myself – although that, surely, is what all writers do anyway? – and it is instructive how much all of these versions have in common. For anyone who knows me, the information that these scenes involve almost nothing of town or city should come as little surprise. But it’s a learning process, a personal learning process. And even the photos I’ve chosen to accompany this post serve to reinforce what I already know about myself.

And the other strand that occurred to me as I thought about all this, is how it has brought home to me that the priority in my writing – my absolute, number one priority – is that first and foremost I am writing for myself. Whatever I write has to please a rather demanding reader; myself. And if that means my writing is even less ‘commercial’ than it was before, then so be it.

Strangely, this seems to have removed the pressure of time. I’ve always ended a writing day either pleased with the amount I’ve written or berating myself for not having written more. As if that was the sole measure of how successful or productive my day had been! Now, though, writing just for myself, success can be equated with how good I feel the output is; and by ‘good’ I mean quality (as defined by me, for me). So even a few lines that work well may be a good day’s work. I think this time pressure, this fixation with writing a certain amount each day, is a purely commercial pressure; an I-need-to-finish-another-book thing.

So goodbye to that. It’s not for me.

25 thoughts on “My Virtual Reality

  1. Very much how I feel at the moment, Mick, inching my way to something more genuine and organic than my past concerns about conforming would have allowed. Must be our curious times, I suppose, constricting and yet oddly freeing at the same time …

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not sure, Dave. I think I’m just giving voice to what I’ve always felt, really. I’ve always hankered after solitude and being far from the madding crowd, while the determination not to write commercially may owe rather more to my innate bloody-mindedness.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sounds perfectly reasonable Mick. It must be so much easier to write for yourself rather try to guess what you should write. If something is fun then surely you will be so much better at doing it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. One thing I’ve learnt the hard way is you can’t rush to finish a book. You have to give yourself time which is really hard as we start to run out of it. But if you hurry or write what you think someone wants to read, it doesn’t work. Three books it took before I learnt that lesson!

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  4. I appreciate your priorities, Mick, and I am quite certain you are going to thoroughly enjoy writing much more as you get deeper into your own motives instead of the commercial process. I know that has worked best for me. Best wishes to you in your writing endeavors.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Mick, it is always nice to see a post from you. I write in the same way you do. I don’t feel pressed to rush out my books, but take my time over them. I try to make them the best I possibly can. I write short stories in between to keep things going, but even those I don’t rush out.

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    1. Thanks, Robbie. I’m beginning to worry my posts are becoming a rarity. But I’m glad you write that way, too. I suppose if I had to push out book seven or eight in a series just so I could put food on the table it would be a different thing completely, but I have the luxury of choosing how I write, so why make things hard for myself?

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I recently read a post from a commercial photographer that had similar things to say about doing photography for commercial reasons rather than doing it for one’s own pleasure. I guess it’s a creative’s conundrum. It’s also one of the reasons I’ve never been much interested in attempting commercial writing or photography.

    At this point, it may well be the writing you do for yourself has a bigger payoff than what mere money might provide.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think the writing I do for myself has always had the bigger payoff, Dave. Sales in the ones and twos over the weeks and months was never really going to pay for the high life (whatever that is).

      It’s probably the conundrum the vast majority of creatives have. Inevitably, only a very small proportion will do well out of it. Even when I was making pretty good sales of my paintings, all it ever did was augment our regular incomes and pay for the odd treat.

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  7. Hi Mick. I’ve always loved the way you write so honestly and naturally. I can really identify with what you’ve written and I should definitely take a leaf out of your book (excuse the unintentional pun) and just simply write for myself and not worry about ‘what other people think’.

    I really must give it a go and get back into my writing after an absence of nearly three years! Is it really that long!? I keep meaning to write a post, but then, usually find other things to do; I’m now quite busy rather than very busy, but that’s still ok as I have been through a lot in the last three years, Covid aside.

    In the background, I recently totally revamped my blog website to better reflect who I am now, and had the intention of writing the same day, but that didn’t seem to happen. So, I’m going to make some time during the day (not necessarily today) rather than in the middle of the night when my eyelids are drooping and begging for sleep.

    Hope to catch up with you some more soon, and I hope everything is as well as it can be for you and your family. Ellie xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lovely to hear from you, Ellie!

      I take a quick peek at your blog every now and again to make sure I haven’t missed a new post, and it’ll be really good to see you writing again.

      I’m sure you have to write for yourself, first and foremost. I post far fewer posts on the blog now as I caught myself thinking I *ought* to post a new one as it had been a week (or however long it was) since the last one, and thought ‘What am I doing?’ I don’t have deadlines I have to meet. No one is paying me to write so many posts a month. This is supposed to ne fun. And my other writing really needs to be treated the same way. So it’s now sporadic, and it suits me fine.

      And yes, we’re fine here, thank you, and I trust you’re as well as can be, too.

      Liked by 1 person

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