Sometimes life gives you lemons. I hear you’re supposed to make lemonade when this happens. The trouble is, life doesn’t give you the sugar and equipment to accommodate the making of lemonade. It just lumps a pile of mouldy, manky looking lemons in your lap and says “here you go you bastard.”

Life keeps throwing lemons at me lately. I wonder if the universe mistakenly has it on record that I can juggle, and is expecting me to put on some kind of farcical show of juggling fifty lemons whilst riding a unicycle through a pit of dragon fire. If only I could. Even then, I’m not sure if I could manage to make lemonade at the end of it.

What does this have to do with writing? Writing to an author is like brown sugar to junkie.  When I’m not writing, I’m thinking about writing. When I’m not talking out loud, I’m listening to the voices in my head (I’m not crazy I swear…). These things don’t go away when the world sticks a big fat lemon in your life and expects you to put everything to one side to deal with it. In fact, it only makes the desire to write even stronger. It’s escapism. It’s fantasy. It’s a safe place. It’s a judgement-free zone. I can build and destroy a universe in one page and no-one gets hurt. I can fix things in my imagination that I can’t fix in real life. It’s addictive. It’s as simple or as complex as I want it to be. It’s cathartic.

But above all, I can control it.

When the world around me is turning to shit, I can open a document, write my heart out and disappear from that fucking great big lemon that won’t go away. It might only be for a minute, or if I’m lucky a couple of hours, but that’s better than nothing. Some people watch TV. Some people watch sports. Some people socialise (crazy people). Writers write. When I’m away in my own little world nothing can hurt me unless that’s part of the plot, and even then it’s only on my terms.

In times of crisis we gravitate toward comfort and safety. Right now, I’m not writing anything for the purposes of publication. I’ve pushed aside the projects and pleaded where I can for extensions to writing deadlines. Right now, I’m writing for pure personal edification and gratification. I’m writing because that’s all I know. I’m writing because if I don’t write I’ll have to deal with the un-lemonadeable lemon - to focus on what can’t be fixed or cured by me sitting around worrying about it.

Maybe when these lemons stop piling up I’ll get back to the serious stuff, but right now the less pressure the better.


Write on.


Anyone can write. I don’t care if you have a low grade ability for English (or whatever language you speak), or if you’re dyslexic, or have a master’s degree in writing, all it takes to be a writer is imagination. The rest comes with time, patience and practice.

Not everyone can write successfully.

It’s a lonely profession. As much as there are writers forums and groups and we join and share our progress (or lack of) and discuss all manner of writery things, when it comes down to it, when we’re sat staring at a blank page or screen, the author is alone. Doubt creeps in through the little cracks in the corners. You can get to the end of a three hundred page epic and think, “boy, what a crock of shit and waste of time.”

You spend half your time with a crippling fear of failure and the other half worrying about success.  On occasion, when you’re not stressing over these things, you manage to drop a few words in. Writing is hard work. There are days when all the plotting you’ve done falls to pieces. When you realise you’ve got a gaping great hole in the middle - DESPAIR! There are times when you want your character to do something or go somewhere but you can’t seem to make it happen naturally – DISASTER! There are times when you realise the whole section you’ve spent ages writing needs to be cut completely taking your word count back to where you were three weeks ago – WHY DON’T I JUST QUIT NOW?

Writing is torture. It’s a horrid experience from start to finish with the occasional nice bit in the middle where everything goes right. It does very little for your self-esteem and while we spend hours daydreaming about being the next JK Rowling or Stephen King, the reality of our situation is dreadful. There are too many of us flooding the world, writing our hearts out. No matter how good you are, there will be many more who are better and even they struggle to make a success of it.

Why then, do we subject ourselves to it over and over? Are all authors would-be masochists? Possibly. Do we enjoy the suffering of the process? Not really. But you know what’s worse? Not writing.

I can’t not write. It’s like a drug. There are words inside my brain scratching to get out and if I don’t write them down then I feel sick. That doesn’t mean I write all the time, no matter how much I want to, there are times where I can’t write a thing. Those are the really bad times, when you want to write but for whatever reason, you just can’t. Writing impotence. Not fun. Writing hurts, but not writing is worse.

Blood sweat and tears are our bread and water. No-one tells you that. After all, who would dare admit to such pain and anguish?