Practice makes perfect. That is what we’re told. Whatever it is we are trying to achieve, from baking a souffle to standing on our heads, the more we do it the easier it becomes. At least, that’s the theory.
For as long as I have been able to write I have written or, more accurately, for as long as I have been able to speak I have ‘written’. A scrap of envelope that I came across at the weekend, used by my dad to note down an impromptu poetry dictation, is proof of this.
But was it any good? That is only a question my adult self would ask. Little me didn’t care. And therein lies the problem.
Now that I have the tools, the vocabulary, the life experience to write, I also have the fear, the crippling self-consciousness. I don’t know exactly when the seeds of doubt were first planted but they have grown in to a twisted maze that I am finding it increasingly difficult to escape from.
Blame cannot be attributed to any external source. I have no Maleficent lurking in the shadows of my writing past. Besides their secretarial services, my parents ventured ideas for projects, proof read everything from childhood scrawls to 80,000 word manuscripts, and whilst never showering false praises were not embarrassed to be trailed around town by a daughter who told herself stories. Out loud. In public. Others too have offered their encouragement, not least my uncle who, when I was eight, took away a scribble of my poetry and sent back a word processed version, a thing of wonder in 1992. I must have known it was an important gesture as I have kept it safe all these years but I think I am only now beginning to appreciate the significance of that vote of confidence.
No, I have tended the forest of thorns alone and it is time I took a scythe to them. This is the first swing. I have only re-drafted it five times.