Monday, December 11, 2006

Wrestling with Charles Dickens

Like I say -- nothing that's worthwhile is ever easy.
I had never before in my writing life accepted money for work not yet done. I'd like to think that this behaviour came from some sort of principle, a high-minded belief that inspiration would be poisoned by commerce. But then why have I always been so envious of fellow playwrights who not only accept commissions but ask for them, and, when they've got them, announce them to all who care to listen, and many who don't? Perhaps it's because I know that's what real playwrights do: even Shakespeare accepted commissions, though as far as I can make out they were mainly from himself.

The fact is, I have difficulty in thinking of myself as a playwright. On those official forms where you have to put down your occupation, I clung to "lecturer" for years after I'd retired. Now I write "writer" in a loose sort of way, with a little gap between the i and the t, connected by a squiggle. Wri~ter.

I can't write when I'm afraid to write. When I force myself I become self-conscious, which is worse than not writing, as it makes me feel ashamed, and bogus. On the other hand, not writing makes me feel stolen from - but by whom or what? Time, perhaps. I decided to give up on the play for a while, get stuck into something else.

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