Shame: an emotion I rarely feel. I am lucky enough to; have a very informed and charming troupe of friends, I have a boyfriend who not only supports me but also plays the violin and can talk with interest and energy on the finer point of quantum mechanics. Without bragging but being very honest with my readers, I myself am blessed with style, taste, loyalty and compassion, I can also speak a little French and I work at the moment in civil or ‘third sector’ doing what I can to make the world a slightly brighter place, if in a very modest way indeed.
So there it is, apart from the odd relative at Christmas time, I have no reason to find the peony blush spreading through my already rosy cheeks. But at lunch myself and my new-found colleagues were discussing our raison d’etre outside of work, (rumors has it amongst our legions is a rocket scientist) and I without thinking of the real truth of my words I said, “…Well I am a writer.”. From my colleagues issues some ‘ooohs’ which made me feel very proud. But then when I got home and glanced at my laptop, sadly closed for too long on my unfinished novel (think 1984 meets Ian M. Banks series) I felt a wave of shame. After all you are not a writer if you do not write, or are you? It got me thinking is a writer in the wider sense a writer if they’re work is so marvelous they do not have the power to express it. Jane Eyre’s character says something similar of her original paintings, “in each case I had imagined something which I was quite powerless to realise.” Lily Briscoe too in To The Lighthouse mentions something similar with her own water colours. She sees but cannot replicate faithfully, (incidentally this is another book you should read, quite beautiful as it is).
The answer, no. Not in any reasonable literal sense you are not a writer if you never dane to put finger to keyboard or pen to paper. No. This is harsh I know, it saddens me to think how many great novels, works of art, would have been realised if people had just had the opportunity or the courage to sit down and not be afraid. Because I know I cannot be alone in the fear of dedicating a large portion of my time and effort to realise a dream only to have that dream fall short of my expectation of its potential as an idea. It is like a cold finger down my spine to dwell on that outcome. However, if every great personage throughout history was held back by this same fear where would we be? Brunel would still be staring sadly across the river Tamar. Jane Austen would have died in obscurity quietly grumbling to herself over her crochet patterns. Alexander the great, for all we know, may have had a bad fall on a horse as a young boy, but that was no reason not to, in a very literal sense, get back on the horse.