'My bottom drawer is more of a recycling bin than a bottom drawer. With the knowledge that no writing is ever wasted, my intention is for nothing to stay in it forever. Instead, it serves as a temporary storage space for stories I plan to revise. '
'I had my office job, but in the afternoons where once I had written, I sat feeling depressed and lethargic. I tried exercise, baking, gardening and, in knitting, I finally found something that I was even worse at than writing. Then I got knitter’s block. '
Gerry Cambridge on personal literary excavations, retrievals and early beginnings as a writer.
Amber Lee Dodd shares how a fear of failure led to a crippling case of writer’s block, and how she is reframing her relationship with failure to rediscover her most joyful creative self.
'He listened silently before thanking me for my time and then I retreated feeling like the most micro-brained fool in the writing world. Who makes or invests millions on a high-seas epic about lesbian pirates written by a complete unknown? Nobody. '
'Half way down the first page of a new novel I’d shrug. Nothing wrong with the writing, just that I felt I knew it already. Ditto cinema. Weeks passed, then months. That span of openness I’d hoped for took on a different aspect. I began to feel lost.'
'Over the past thirty years I’ve pretty much jumped from one project to the next. I even took a laptop on a family holiday and got up early to write. What kind of holiday is that? Not only was I working, I wasn’t entirely with the people I love.'
'Writing, with all its knockbacks and critical judgements, can be a lonely road. Nick Hornby gave up writing novels for a while, claiming that he was sick of his own company, but he couldn’t walk away completely. He became a screenwriter instead.'
'It’s never been clear to me what’s meant to happen in that bottom drawer. Will your manuscript magically rewrite itself, freed from any interference by you? Will it sit there, until some editor has a Eureka! moment and shouts, ‘Get me the author!’?'
'‘Nothing you ever write is ever wasted.’ What’s that supposed to mean? That you will be able to reuse the words? Upcycle them into something like a patchwork quilt or a genteelly distressed sideboard? Or, the process of writing teaches you something?'
'I have written at least four full-length novels that will never see the light of day. A couple have been roundly rejected by publishers, and I have not had the temerity to show the others to anyone for fear they might somehow slip past the gatekeepers. '
'"So?" raised uncomfortable questions. Aren't we always battling against that nasty little question? On bad days it undermines, on good days it underpins. And here it was, so bold and uncompromising, footnoting my trusting poem.'