about writing and life and God

Let them eat cake

on August 15, 2012

I have just eaten a lump of fruit cake. I don’t know whether it was vegan and now it’s vanished down my gullet, I’m not sure I care. But what I’m asking myself is: why?

This is a straightforward example of comfort-eating. When you live alone, as I do, food is the easiest refuge when you hurt or things go wrong. But what went wrong today?

I got my service for Sunday typed up and I’m happy with it. It’s going to be an All-Age service and I have planned some activities for the youngsters that the adults won’t be embarrassed joining in, plus some decent theology for the grown-ups, not to mention good hymns… I should be happy.

But then I went out for coffee with a friend. Again, surely that is a cause for delight? But was it her simple statement that the novel she is writing for her distance-learning course is being tutored by a  published writer with good contacts so publication appears to be in the bag? For a first novel?!!!!

My 18,000 words is for my (approximately) tenth novel. Nine of which languish in tatty folders in the equivalent of under-the-bed. I can view this with reasonable equanimity as my apprenticeship. Learning my craft.

I wrote my first novel in my early twenties. It went out to one publisher and when it was rejected, I felt rejected and took a job instead in book publishing – sublimating my writing dreams and living vicariously through my authors for the next twenty years. I had a bash at a couple more novels in between, both unfinished.

Then when I hit the glass ceiling and set up a consultancy helping people in business and academia to write and get published, I began writing again.

Non-fiction came easily. My early gap-year training as a journalist helped. I got an editorship on a magazine, and wrote thousands of words. Even got some non-fiction books published.

But the dream – the lofty goal – remained fiction.

I was thrilled when my children’s book (It’s Hard to Hurry When You’re a Snail) was published – but it didn’t quite satisfy. Since then, I’ve produced several more unpublished novels – volume one of a cosy crime series set in the West Country, a one-off I call chick lit for older and wiser chicks, and now 18,000 words of a Christian historical set in the fishing communities of my native Scotland and the area of England where I now live.

But instead of settling down happily to write chapter 8 this afternoon, I heeded Marie Antoinette and ate cake.

It solved nothing. To paraphrase St Paul: ‘The good things that I’d like to do I don’t do and the rubbish things I know I really ought not to do, that’s the stuff I waste my time with… and hate myself after. What an idiot!’ (Romans 7:19 & 24)

Here’s where I need to remind myself: first write the book. A book in the hand is worth several new starts. Then if the dear old paper publishers aren’t interested, there’s always Kindle, no?


2 responses to “Let them eat cake

  1. Anne says:

    I think you deserved that little bit of cake today. Don’t beat yourself up about it. But I hope it was exceedingly nice cake! I comfort-ate some ice cream………. and then my dog died and I knew what would happen to the rest…… I poured hot water over it and felt strong as it went down the plug-hole……….. And guess what……….. to cheer me up, I think…….. my husband bought some chocolate ice cream again today………… OOPS!!! I will be strong. I will be strong. I will be strong and anyway my big diet is starting in September…….. a few more days to go!!!
    Keep up the good work.

  2. Pat says:

    Hmm. You make me want to eat cake too. Hate, hate, hate. But, in the bag? I doubt it. She still has to jump the same hurdles as everyone else and it’s the money men that make the decisions these days, no matter how many friends she’s got.
    By all means eat cake and go slightly green (I’ll join you), but you may also have to be there for her with the tea and cake if it all goes awry in the end. And you have a track record of finishing which she still has to achieve. Getting to the end of 80K odd words is no mean feat. Revising it till it works is yet another.
    And forget it. You have 18,000 words which need a few more chugging along behind. If you don’t write them, they will never be published.

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