Why writing is like dating.

Writing, in one sense, is like dating. What I mean is this: with each failed attempt, it gets a little harder to try again next time. I’m in the early stages of working on a new project, and, just like each time I start a new relationship, I am in that familiar haze of fear and excitement. Just as when you meet someone new, the excitement comes first. The ideas come tumbling out of you; everything is fresh, original, the sentences emerge onto the page with a promising fluidity. And then, and then: then comes the fear. The doubt. The wonder as to whether it’s any good. And then come the memories of all the other projects that didn’t work out, strewn forlornly throughout your creative past like lost loves. There have been so many.

Some might say: “but what do you define by ‘working out’, though? Surely even a relationship that ended after a couple of years was a success in some form”. Well, in response to that, I would have to say no, not really. As joyful as an attempt at a long-term relationship may have been at various points, it ultimately didn’t give you the result that you wanted. And the same is true for art, with me in any case. Whenever I begin a long piece of work, I do so with the hope that it will resonate with a great many people; that this resonance will lead me to a far better quality of life. Some might say that this is the wrong way to assess the quality of one’s creative output, that if you touch just one person then your art has been a success, but I learned a long time ago that the applause of a solitary human being does not pay the rent.

So where are things now? Ah, yes; with the fear, my old friend. Here we are again: and here I am at this screen, with this new work, as afraid of the first page as I am of a first date. Not knowing how long it will take; not knowing who it will touch, who will care. But here goes, I will start again: because, just like lovers, that’s what writers do, and always will.

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