I have set myself the target of finishing the travelogue of my Mongol Rally Odyssey by September, however I have to say it’s not going so well. Like most of my writing, the whole thing set off at a cracking place, the start was sharp, focused and I thought pretty gripping. However, now that I’ve come to the meat of the thing I seem to have lost that focus and my faith in what I’m writing about.
I started to think too much about what’s in front of me, the number of words is becoming a barrier which I can’t seem to see over. Also I know that I am fundamentally a lazy man, that I will always find other things to do rather than the thing I think I’m good at and I know gives me unalloyed pleasure. Superficially, it does seem a rather strange, perplexing thing to do, to undermine something that is so important, but to me there’s no mystery. As long as I really don’t commit, never finish, I can always say I’m working on something and never have to show anyone a thing. As a result I never really have to expose my writing to any reality, I don’t really want to know that something I’ve pinned so much on is actually a mirage. That internal argument about reality and fantasy has been going on for a long time and probably will never go away, in fact if that uncertainty ever left me I would almost definitely be writing crap.
The other bit, the stuff about words piling up, is something I can tackle more easily. In many ways it’s like my jogging route. I always do the same circuit, roughly about 3.5 miles, and there are some really pleasant sections, almost relaxing, by the canal, massive cuts through the city that drop you down into phantom bucolic landscapes that can make you forget that there are hundreds, thousands of people around you.
And then there’s the hill at the end and it doesn’t matter how you approach it, there’s always a hill because I live on the top of that hill. As Newton, or some other clever fellow stated, what goes down must come up, hmmmm… that sounds like a good tag for a porn movie. To put it another way, it is easier to go down than for a camel to get through the eye of a needle, I’m sure you’re getting my drift. Anyway, the hill, is always at the end and it’s a mean-spirited, long drawn out bugger that mercilessly saps your energy and your resolve. It took me a bit of time to come to terms with this geographical ball breaker, however I realised it was all a matter of perception. I know where I need to go, thankfully I’ve never been that shattered that I can’t find my way home, so I don’t have to look at the bloody hill, rather just in front of me and at the ground I’m eating up, however slowly; slowly but a thousand times faster than if I look at the whole hill.
And that’s what I need to do with the writing, break it down into sections and only look just in front of me. I know where I need to end up, in a hotel in Ulaanbaatar washing the dirt of the Gobi desert from my skin, marvelling at hot water coming out of a tap and enjoying a relaxing 20 minutes on the toilet reading a book. Perhaps that last bit might not make it into the final cut, there’s such a thing as too much honesty, or so I’m told. This is the top of the hill, the moment of Nirvana that I will reach if I stay focused just in front of me, but I know it’s going to be a long, hard summer, and in the words of the Bard of Woking I hope it’s not a long hot summer that will pass me by.
How do you tackle the challenge of writing when anything else seems more interesting?