On Ambition, Doubt and Creativity

Photo by Jonathan Emmanuel Flores Tarello

Sometimes I come to a blank page because I have something to say; at other times, I come here because my mind needs excavating before I can move forward. Today is one of those days.

Writing fiction is a strange beast. Readers have an idea of what it might be like: writers working on their manuscripts at coffee shops à la J. K. Rowling in the early days; or the serene novelist at his beach house; or perhaps the hare-brained writer working amongst a mountain of paper on his kitchen table.

Writers, too, have an idea of what it might be like. We have read about how Hemingway wrote, or F. Scott Fitzgerald, or Virginia Woolf needing a room of her own. We gobble up non-fiction books on writing, hoping it will illuminate our own process. The truth is, that while these bring solace and sometimes lightbulbs of realisation, our path can never be the same.

Photo by Carmen Jost

This job is a trade, not a science. It is done by feeling as much as by knowledge. No day is the same. I may have a blueprint for my story, but the slightest interaction or change in light may colour what I write next.

My only job is to show up at my desk. That is why this work is so exciting, and so terrifying. It is why I learn everyday. It is also why I am holding the thoughts at bay that Hidden Colours may not be good enough, that my ambition for the novel won’t match its quality.

There is nothing for it, of course, but to continue the work. Doubt is not a new emotion. Hesitation is often the enemy of creativity. So we work, creating a microcosm of thought that we hope will be of value to someone other than ourselves. What a privilege to be able to do this.


All the Tomorrows, my first novel, is available at all the usual retailers. Hidden Colours, my second novel, is due out in autumn 2018. If you want to be updated when it releases, follow me on BookBub and Amazon. Alternatively, subscribe to my occasional newsletter here.

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