This is difficult for a lot of us. Our characters are more interesting than we are, their adventures more captivating, their dialogues wittier than anything we might have to say in ordinary conversation. Probably, they’re younger, more vital and better looking as well, and more attractive to the opposite sex. “Eventually,” writes Brett, “you’re going to have to get back to reality. Because, apart from sometimes being the most fun you can imagine, writing fiction is also the most exhausting activity you’re ever going to undertake.”
The trade is riddled with failure, and “authors who feel they’ve failed don’t have to look far for confirmation of that opinion,” says Brett. “Bestsellers lists are everywhere, bulging with the names of other writers. As if the living weren’t bad enough, you also have the genius of the dead to contend with. Cast your eye along your bookshelves. It doesn’t take long, looking at names like, Austen, Dumas, Tolstoy or Wodehouse, to feel your head banging against the low ceiling of your own talent.”
In spite of all this dire stuff, writing remains the art of hope. Most of us know one or two authors who’ve made it, who travel to the south of France yearly and get six-figure checks and the adulation of readers. We hope to transcend ourselves, to obtain with our creations what we can’t find personally. We look to be revealed while hiding in our tale.