Are we ready to write

Let us assume that we have examined all our most pressing excuses for not writing and are finally prepared to face them down, ignore them, and get on.

We are prepared to hear, ‘Oh, I don’t see why you are wasting your time. Millions of books are published every year. What makes you think yours will have any chance?’ and blithely we can dismiss this and other discouragement because we are happy to undertake the pilgrimage. We have decided it is what we want to do, so that is that. Well done.

There is one more species of question to ask which only we can answer. Are we ready to write the story of our life? Is it interesting enough, thus far, to keep us busy and thinking and occupied for the next five years? Will it engage an average reader? Simply put, have we lived enough, done enough, do we have enough years under our belts or not?

This is not a trivial question. John Mortimer, whom I truly admire, lived a very long life, and wrote three main volumes of autobiography, because, I assume, stuff kept happening to him. Only problem now is, that if we hope to read all about him, it is best to read these volumes in sequence, though I suppose it is fine to read about his admission to the bar in one volume, and the problems encountered in being very old, in the next volume we retrieve, being read, haphazardly out of sequence.

And no-one wants to embark on a life-changing project feeling unsure about whether our work will be worth reading. If that kind of uncertainty is nipping our heels, the best thing to do is put aside the ambition – for now – and go and do some more interesting things. After a while, we can revisit our ambition and see how we feel about it. I have done that. The idea of writing has been with me for about thirty years. And I was lucky to spot a natural pause in my life that I could put to good use in starting to take writing seriously.

If the answer to questions such as these is, “Yes, I’ve certainly had an interesting life, and I laugh in the face of your skepticism!” then we are ready to write.

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