The Thing in the Gap by Fletcher Moss
The Thing in The Gap by Fletcher Moss
You may already be familiar with Ira Glass’s beautifully expressed insight into the thing he calls ‘the gap’.
If it’s new to you, I’m glad – you’re going to love it. I’m just standing on the shoulders of giants here, but for those of you who’ve never seen the quote, witness. Ephiphany, choirs of angels, glory and splendour, etcetera etcetera…
And if you want to hear the great man speaking, and watch a lovely film to go with it, go here and spend a very special couple of minutes.
It’s this gap – between what we imagine and what we end up with – that’s the hardest part of being a writer for me. Because for me – like you guys too, I guess – it’s not just the gap, but the bad things that live in the gap.
Really bad things live in that gap; bad things with insistent voices – our inner critics.
I was in London last weekend meeting up with some writerly types, lovely people one and all, and after a couple of drinks we fell into talking about the gap and the voices in it. There were folks there that admitted to crippling bouts of insecurity. Guys and gals who shared terrible tales of wrestling their inner critics, fighting the voices who told them they weren’t good enough, or it couldn’t be done, or the last book was better, the last chapter was better, the last sentence was better. There were folk who’d ditched whole novels; burnt them up or ditched them – the literary equivalent of the Bake-Off hipster with the beard like a bad dream who binned off his pavlova. Or whatever it was. There were writers with novels that were a chapter away from complete, but the victorious voice in the gap had convinced them they weren’t worth finishing. There were tales of battles with subconscious demons that had prevented the putting of pen to paper for weeks on end.
And there didn’t seem to be any relationship between experience and exposure to the voice in the gap. First-timers like me were fighting it, sure, but people three or four books in were having the same trouble. It doesn’t seem to be something you simply grow out of. Unlike, say, slinging your cake binwards in bad times and executing a flouncy exit.
What can we do about it? Keep going, I s’pose. Like Glass says; “It’s gonna take a while. It’s normal to take a while. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”
Fletcher Moss was an Alderman of Manchester who upon his death over a century ago, bequeathed a beautiful botanical gardens to the people of the city; a noble and generous gesture. This Fletcher Moss has significantly less to recommend him – he’s an Assistant Headteacher at a school in Greater Manchester who needed a pseudonym for the writing he fits in between lesson planning, marking and rattling around the M60 in his second-hand Citroen. He lives in Manchester with his wife and young daughter. He is working on his second and third novels at the same time – surely a recipe for disaster if ever there was one.