The Tongues of Men

A novel in redraft by Gabriel Smy

About the author

Epiphany would be too strong a word but I had a moment of truth driving around the Highlands of  Scotland with a leadership coach friend of mine. As he painted a picture of the future that I would be delighted to live in, and one by one debunked my reasons for not wanting to become a writer, at least not yet, I realised that the only actual thing preventing me from writing my first novel was me committing to doing it.

Scratch that, reverse it: the single thing that will turn me into a novelist is me. I needed to stop making excuses and decide to do it. And then get on with it.

So I am. You see for a number of years I've been good at lots of things without committing to any of them. There have been specious arguments - I don't know which is the right thing to commit to; if I'm not single-mindedly passionate about one thing then I'm not cut out for it; if I get too focused my family will suffer - but the more insidious reasons, which have thus far rendered any concerted creative effort impotent, have been the deeper fears that may sound familiar. The fear of failure. The unappealing necessity of hard work. The fear of responsibility - if I make a decision to construct something riskier with my life, then I'll be the fool when it doesn't work out.

Then I turned 30.

And I realised that time is short, I'm not a kid any more, and if I wanted to create something more inspirational than a vague memory of a nice guy who was good at lots of things then I'd better pick one and commit to doing something with it.

I haven't always wanted to be writer, but I want to be one now. Not because God came to me in the night. Or because I dreamt of my calling or my destiny. But because I realise that if I commit to doing it, it will get done. Waiting for the right reasons, feelings or moment left me indecisive. Deciding first was the only way to do it.

And strangely, the passion and the calling seem to follow the commitment. Before, where I would lie awake straining to think of at least one decent plot for a novel, now it's hard to turn off the tap. In the words of W.H. Murray, 'the moment one definitely commits oneself then providence moves too.

All that to say...

I'm writing a novel. I work on it one whole week in five. The other four weeks I am a content strategist for a software company. For some reason (only a decade late) I have only just started blogging, and decided to launch three almost simultaneously: this one for the novel, SmyWord for my job (now retired), and Verbatim Poetry just for fun.

The novel is risky and hard work, and it feels like my first real attempt to make something happen in life instead of waiting to see what emerges. I remain afraid of failing, hate being criticised and still dislike extensive effort, but I'm not going to let any of that stop me.

As Sibelius said, 'no statue has ever been put up to a critic'.


Post a Comment 3 comments:

  • Kat(i)e said...
    30 May 2009 at 12:10
    I did the same thing, but with songs, and the "inspiration following" thing was true for me too. Who knows what will come of our dreams? Unless we do nothing about them that is, then we can be pretty sure. God luck! I am excited to be able to see the process and expect to learn a lot...
  • Becky said...
    17 November 2010 at 15:15
    Hmm, I feel the same way about making art. I'm an art critic, art historian and have started helping artists write more coherently about their own work... but... at heart I'm one of them. An artist, that is. But constant excuses = no art being made. Must get to it. It's good to read someone being honest about the the process and about things like hating criticism, etc.
  • Jon+Maria said...
    6 December 2010 at 22:02
    "when my own work stops moving my own , myself and I need to regroup."...
    its been meaningful to read this account bigG.
    another unmelodic week for me and another impetus to go again...

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