The Creative Process or The Impossibility of Happiness

I finished my novel. I completed the third draft after finishing the story in September. I think one of the most difficult things about writing a novel is having to read it over and over so you no longer know if it’s good or not. A few people have read the first few chapters but no one’s actually read the whole thing through. The first person I gave it to was my girlfriend. I gave it to two other people. A friend I’ve known since childhood and my writer friend I met on my Masters, James Rice. He asked to read it when I was at his book launch last month for his book Alice and the Fly. I know parts of that book quite well already, having worked on it during the MA. And it’s weird with my book since it’s the first one I’ve written since I graduated so I haven’t had that kind of feedback. (The one I wrote during the MA has been shelved). During the book launch I sat with my girlfriend and got drunk off two glasses of red wine and started talking a lot after the reading. I talked to my old classmates. It was strange to see how we had changed after just two years. I left with my girlfriend and we went to a tequila bar and we drank some more. I forget the rest of the night. But I became very focused on my work and re-wrote my novel and ended up with the final product, which is what I have now.

But I’m not happy. Many people have many different creative processes. Mine is to sit and write without much thought to structure or planning. I enjoy writing without knowing what’s going to happen next (to a certain extent). My novel is finished and it’s like I’ve just ran a marathon and there’s no one at the finish line. Where is everyone? The book will probably now be shelved as I work on another one. And another. It’s this creativity and the impossibility of accomplishing anything worth shouting about.

I’ve been writing since I was about 15 years old, so that about 14 years. And writing professionally for about 7. But I’ve always had the thought that turning 30 is like a dead-line. Or a dead-end. I’m 29 now and I know I’ve accomplished some things and do have some things to be happy about, but there’s always the feeling of failure even before reaching that dead-line. Sometimes I think of Arthur Rimbaud. The 19th century teenage French poet who gave up writing as soon as he turned 20. It’s easy to have the same feelings, to just pack it all in and move on. To quit. But the idea of quitting simply because you feel it’s not going anywhere has little to do with happiness. I could quit writing and carry on with my job in retail and be even more miserable. Why not quit that? Why not quit all the things that make me miserable and carry on with the things that make me happy? Writing makes me happy. My girlfriend makes me happy. My friends make me happy. Happiness is not impossible, but it is impossible to stay the same way.

About two weeks ago I went to Dublin with my girlfriend. I’ve always wanted to go and it made sense to me since I’d written about it in my novel. Coming back, we missed our flight and after a run of bad luck and panic, I managed to get my friend to wire me some money and I booked flights for the next day and we stayed in a hotel for another night. I don’t like spending money, I’m not a big spender, purchasing things doesn’t interest me. I’m not selfish or tight with my money, I just get scared I’ll waste what I have and be stuck. So we spent the last bit and when I relaxed in bed and watched TV that last night while my girlfriend was in the shower and I thought ‘Who cares?’ Who cares if I spend money? Who cares if I fail? Who cares if nothing goes to plan? These little things make me happy. It’s just living life and not being so worried about little, stupid things like money.

While we were in Dublin we sat in the pub called John Kehoe’s and I imagined I was my own main character. I imagined my girlfriend sitting opposite me was the girl in the novel and I tried to think his way and what he would have done. It was like when my character had finally found that place he was meant to be, I’d somehow found mine. Almost.

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