I've been chugging along at this creative adventure for quite a while now, chugging along through various experiences, including a couple of films (here) and a number of creative writing programmes.
In 2006, some two and a bit years after graduating with a BA in Independent Studies, I just about scraped a Pass on my MA in Creative Writing: the pass mark was 50, I received a 53.
My confidence took a huge hit, I felt incredibly humiliated. For a time, the desire to keep writing was eclipsed by anxiety that I was merely deluding myself. Embarrassment about my 'failure' prevented me from really believing I could succeed. In short, I was focused on the wrong catalysts. Embarrassment, however human, showed immaturity: my focus was me, when it needed to become more deeply concerned with serving the reader. And in more truly patient with the time that takes.
My wife (who is a very talented fine artist) once said, in essence, all art is valuable because it reveals where the artist has come to at any given point; in other words, the question of "how good it is" is in many ways an irrelevance and an unhelpful distraction. Which is not the same as saying all art is equal (i.e. ready for publicly sharing) but an invitation to be patient with myself in producing the work, patient with the process of making it ready for others.
How long to write a book? How long before I get published? Will my work secure positive reviews? Will the novel sell? How well will it sell?
For me, these are big questions. And questions I have asked. But whenever they become urgent, they are clues that I am walking onto the ice, thin ice.
The distracted question of how long it takes to become published (a question I have asked if different ways many times) is potentially a revelation of troubled subtexts. The unspoken doubts are 'how long should it take, may it take, will it take'?
What I am really asking is: 'do I have what it takes to see a project through to the "end"?' Whatever "end" means. Maybe what it means is another subtext of self doubt: 'how will I know when I am done?' Which is to say 'how will I know when I have done enough for someone else to like it?' Ah... Will my work be popular, or will I get overlooked? Will all my effort come to nothing? Will I be more liked, or less liked?
There is the ice: these most dangerous of questions, dangerous because they take my eye off the proverbial ball.
Stanislavski might have asked me: 'Do you love the art in yourself, or yourself in the art?'
As E.M. Forster said: 'Only connect.'