I haven’t been talking much about Writing here, these past few months. Partly this is habit – I don’t talk much about writing, full stop. I once made the mistake of sharing an idea for something, something I’d like to work on sometime, with a friend, and had to put up with the “so, how’s Project X coming along?” or “when are you going to write that?” thing for far longer than was comfortable. Having someone asking how something is going is fine some of the time – it can be a useful way of motivating yourself, knowing someone is going to ask – but it shouldn’t be about the vague ideas.
I never understand the ‘where do you get your ideas from?’ question, because initial ideas, seeds of things, are ten a penny. It’s like finding someone cute (come on, go with me on this for a second) – a glance across the crowded room and you think, oh, yum. But much in the same way that I don’t believe in love at first sight, and in the same way that I adore flirting and dread actual dates, that initial moment of attraction or interest is just that – an initial moment, a brief high before the mundanity kicks back in. You don’t want a relationship with every individual you’ve ever found attractive. Because it’s work, because up-close things look very different, and because you need a hell of a lot more than the ‘oh yum’ moment to sustain something on a long-term basis.
So you don’t want someone asking you how the relationship is going with that one person you mentioned was kinda cute all those months ago. Nor do you necessarily want to go into the details of why it didn’t turn into something. And maybe, if they’re still in your life, you’re keeping your options open and might end up hitting on them the next time you’re out for a drink together. (Actually, this comparison is working really well. I mean, I’m not sure what it says about me, but still.) But you’re not actively pursuing it, you’re not devoting time and energy to it. Because you can’t do that with every yummy person you encounter.
And the ones that you do pick – sure, sometimes it doesn’t work out. And sometimes you just keep working at it and that’s when you realise – the yumminess doesn’t mean all that much. Sure, it’s still there – you get flashes of it, at unexpected moments – but there’s so much more to do. It’s about work. It’s less about the happy-shiny-bouncy and more about the keeping-it-going. And sometimes? Well, sometimes you’re doing other things. You’re setting up organisations or teaching classes or drinking tea or reading or seeing your friends or doing laundry. These things don’t just stop.
For some people, that’s when the magic begins – being in something. Seeing it develop. But for others – it’s often vaguely disappointing, never quite living up to the ideal, except for those brief moments where it surpasses anything you could have imagined. It’s ordinary, and it’s plodding, and sometimes it’s not going well, but you don’t necessarily want to talk about it because often people don’t understand, when they’re not a part of it, that it can not go well and still be something you want to pursue, because you know that you can work through it and get to the good parts. You don’t want to be talked out of it, or to share your thoughts on the matter, or (worst of all) to be accused of not making enough of an effort. Because you’ve made the decision to go beyond the ‘oh yum’ moment, and you’re going to stick with it and see what happens. It’s just not necessarily going to help to talk about it.
And sometimes you don’t want to introduce someone to the friends and family until you’re sure it’ll work out. Because even though you know where things are heading, you’re also a little too jaded at this game to want to answer questions until you have to.
(And if that metaphor hasn’t crumbled for you, then… yay.)