K is for Keep Calm and Carry On.

…but not really.

As I’ve glanced at the titles of the next two blog posts hiding in the drafts section of this blog, I can see that one word will crop up a few times this week – “keep”. I’m using it because, in all honesty, I can’t think of anything else.

The phrase “Keep Calm and Carry On” originated in the Second World War and was used on posters to try and keep morale up in the event of an invasion. After the Second World War, the design was more or less forgotten, until in the year 2000 when it was rediscovered in a bookshop. As Crown Copyright expires after 50 years on artistic works created by the government, the phrase and imagery associated with  it are now in the public domain, and therefore is available for anybody to use and make money from. More information can be found HERE at the wikipedia entry. (Forgive me for constantly linking to wikipedia, but I do find it helps give a brief explanation of things I try to cover).

Anyway, the origin of “Keep Calm and Carry On” was not the point of this entry (surprisingly). I think, though horribly overused and seemingly everywhere, the phrase can be applied to writing. Bear with me.

Sometimes, writing is REALLY hard. All the non-writers reading this will scoff and wonder what, exactly, is so hard about writing a novel. Well, to answer that, EVERYTHING!

It sounds easy. That’s why a lot of people give it a try. You look at the thousands of books filling bookshops, charity shops, Amazon and so on and think “If this many people managed to write a book, why can’t I?”. That’s a trap to fall into.

When you get down to it, writing a novel is not easy, some of  the time it’s not even fun. Occasionally (and this has happened once for me) there is a moment where the book, or even scene, you are writing is the most exciting thing in the world. You feel like a writing genius, sure that this is the best thing you have ever written and nothing will beat it, ever. And then there’s  the times (and these are much more frequent) when you can’t bear to open the Word document because you know what’s lurking inside is so terrible it probably shouldn’t have been written.

Writing is a struggle, a long and mostly unsatisfying one. On page one the characters shine and say all the right things, but by page 50 (sometimes more, sometimes less) everything they say seems forced and drawn out. There’s no middle to the story and the plot is sagging. Some writers persevere, hoping to be struck by inspiration, that the story will turn itself around into something half acceptable. Some don’t.

To those that do, I say these words: “Keep Calm and Carry On.”


Currently reading: The Once and Future King – T. H. White.



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