How To Be A Writer: Tell The Truth (And Run Away)
If you want to be a serious successful writer, you usually have two options:
a) you write fiction (aka a novel);
b) or you write about truth aka stuff you know and believe.
The only problem I currently face is that I am too focused on my immediate life/career (or in Hannah Horvath’s words “too busy trying to become who I am”) to solely focus on fiction. It’s a long and winding road with lots of tea and lots of toast and LOTS of tears.
And right now I feel I do not have the time or sanity to pop off into the corner to write about imaginary people. Step by step. Little by little. Taking too much time off work to write a novel could be as bad as turning to a life of juice cleanses – it would turn me into an insular nutty person. As much as ‘writing stories with a cup of tea and a pet cat’ sounds nice, the reality might not be so dreamy. Routine is extremely important for someone who’s ‘still figuring it out’.
OK, OK, I know Zadie Smith managed to smash out White Teeth during her final year at Cambridge but that is probably the worst idea anyone has ever had to even suggest a comparison to Zadie Smith. It’s almost as bad as waking up every day and reminding yourself that you are not Rita Ora. “Did you know that Rita Ora is only 24? So young! So successful!” It just doesn’t bode well. It’s like going on a Facebook binge and look at rich thin people. It’s just not recommended.
So the other option for now – on this blog – or in other online places, is to write about truths. The only thing is, I do not know many writers out there brave enough to admit/reflect on the truth in the present tense. It’s a bit of a sore subject really isn’t it, writing what you REALLY think, and it couldn’t very easily come and bite you in the bum. I’ve been reading and re-reading Caitlin Moran’s How To be A Woman, Tina Fey’s Bossypants and Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging out Without Me. However, for the most part, these writers are reflecting on their past. They can tell their worldwide audiences about their horrific school days, their strange upbringings, their deep and personal thoughts in retrospect: this is safer and cannot come and haunt them. Autobiographical anecdotes from their past lives keep them an arm’s length from true harsh confession. I love them deeply, but it makes me feel like perhaps the thing to do is to wait before you talk about personal things.
One blogger/writer/model by occupation who I admire for writing her personal truth in the present tense is Melissa Stetten who writes her own blog. She is a feisty eloquent writer who says it how it is, talks about people, how they make her feel, her flaws, her talents, basically: what-happened-that-day-with-no-shiny-bells-or-whistles. How many people actually do that? I mean, we live in a world where we have FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) chucked in our faces via Facebook every 1.5 seconds, everyone embellishing and bigging up their lives to make everyone aware that their lives are waaay better and shiner than everyone elses. LOOK AT ME WITH ALL MY 50 TANNED FRIENDS. LOOK AT ME WITH MY GREY GOOSE. LOOK AT ME WITH MY BIG FAT SWIMMING POOL! I’m not excluding myself from this behaviour, oh no, it’s contagious, but when I visit this blog I purposefully make sure I want to talk about what is really going on. It’s not about posting a picture of a Cosmopolitan by a sunset, because, who cares? It’s about writing about real life and talking about it. But can I, without jeopardising certain aspects of my apparently peaceful life talk about what I really think?
Here are some blog posts I’d love to write one day. But unfortunately I will have to wait.
Why I Resent My iPhone
Secrets and Other Tales About An Old School Friend
The Reason I Quit My Old Job
Why I Hate Celebrating My Birthday
Why I Sometimes Go Into Waterstones And Read The Last Pages Of Most of the Books
An Open Letter To My Dissertation Tutor
Dear Two-Years-Ago Me
The Top Worst Things I Have Lied About
All Those Times Where The Grass Has Not Been Greener
What It’s Like To Have a Ridiculously Beautiful Sister
Secret Career Dreams Including Acting and Stand-Up Comedy
10 Reasons Why I Hate Facebook
Things I Said I Regret But Actually Don’t Regret at all
My Worst Interview Of All Time
Why Fashion Secretly Bores Me
Songs I am Embarrassed to Have On My iPod
(The list goes on).
How I Grew Up Online
“In love with Emma Gannon’s Ctrl Alt Delete. So funny & smart, and reminding me of some of my own cringe teen Internet exploits!”– Anna James, former literary editor of ELLE
"Funny, honest, and nostalgic!"– The Debrief
“Emma Gannon is a bright spark of light in the world. I seriously dig everything she makes”– Elizabeth Gilbert, bestselling author of Big Magic