I have always been in awe of writers. Making a profession from that which is already in your brain seems very special to me; a club that only few can join and one that you certainly can’t buy or train your way in to. My view: writers write because they have to, words spill out as there is no room for them inside. It’s a calling. And despite that impetus, it’s an overpopulated calling. My Mum, who is a voracious reader, often despairs at the poor quality of writing in so many books (although rarely in articles, which says a lot for the journalistic profession). There are books that seem lucky to have ever been published, with flimsy story lines and flimsier characters. The lesson: being able to construct a sentence does not a good writer make. Where is the editor?
|Sylvia Plath, on whom I wrote my dissertation.|
And I read the daily musings of what I call ‘real’ writers, I am so consistently impressed by the quality, the depth, the sheer human feeling of the writing. Sometimes, my readers comment and say they like how I write and that I am honest and that they see themselves in what they read. To me, this is what writing is all about. The ability to transport the reader to a place they recognise but that is not their own. And to do so convincingly.
So to report on the ‘book in me’ that I have referred to since I gave up working in the corporate world, yea, well…it’s coming along, but only in my mind’s eye! Writing is a solitary activity and one that requires countless hours in front of a screen. It also requires (at least for me) absolute concentration and an immersion that is not so compatible with the stop/start of family life. I think this is why my blog has been so enduring; it can take as little as twenty minutes for me to write and decorate a blog post and so is often done in the evening as dinners simmer or homework chats ensue. It’s a download rather than a formed discipline. Nevertheless these are excuses for the fact that if I wanted to write, I would.
I started writing short stories as a novel seemed even more elusive for my amateur self. A publisher friend suggested that my writing style was more observational/conversational (hence why the blog works) rather than fictional. But at the root of it all is my need to notice life and to record its meaning. And in every thing I read, the great empathy I feel when a writer has achieved that aim is what spurs me on to write. The more I read, the more I want to write.
But I know I am not alone in wanting to write and those voices in my head (everyone has those, right?) say it’s a saturated, cerebral market and maybe I am not good enough and honestly, as my English teacher always said to me: ‘Louise, you write in a convoluted way; you can not assume that the reader is with you in your thoughts!’
But again and again as I loop around the ‘what to do?’ question in life, I come back to writing as an anchor. So I take that to be a sign.