In Scotland recently we visited Ballindalloch Castle, ancestral home of the MacPherson Grant family whose ancient coat of arms is carved above the entrance.
I was intrigued by the family motto: Touch Not the Cat Bot a Glove, which I take to mean don’t do anything rash with out protecting yourself first (or something to that effect).
It might be a good motto for writers – there are a number of things it’s worth protecting yourself from, not least your own expectations. The competition for attention from traditional publishers is extraordinarily tight and it is easy to start writing what you’re sure will be the defining novel of the 21st century in the belief that it is only a matter of time before a contract is on the table, when this may not be the case. Even published authors with great track records are turning to self publishing now.
You may also need to inure yourself to criticism. If your work does find an audience, there is no guarantee that everyone will like it and adverse comments can be wounding.You might also have to protect yourself against the consequences of success: the stuff of dreams may turn out to be a nightmare of tight deadlines, increased demands on your precious writing time and having to cope with the pressure of repeating previous triumphs.
If you want to write, nothing will stop you, but it’s worth remembering that living creatively makes you vulnerable – if there’s a cat about, then reach for the glove…