Why writing matters

I am now the proud owner of a Kindle. Its great. I was sceptical when it first came out regarding it as more of a gimmick than good idea. However I had got some birthday money from my very generous other half and pondered what to purchase with it. As a regular tweeter, I have a great group of tweeters many of whom are writers. The published ones keep mentioning their published works are available as Kindle books.
I looked around our house. We have thousands of books. I love books and most importantly, reading.
Books are the escape that we need. Life can be hard, lonely, empty and full to the brim with despair. There are those who just go out and live life to the full. The bungee jumping, parachuting surfers of this world. They experience life not view life. Then there are those who find that route easier to imagine or comment on.
Musicians pour the contents of their heart and mind into compositions. Many will write songs or music reacting to life. They will exude confidence and happiness that they cannot express otherwise. Painters/photographers/designers/cooks create often drawing from within themselves.

Writers do all these things. Some will write down their experiences, their doings. Ernest Hemingway often live the life he wrote about.
The incredibly successful novelist Ian Banks writes fiction and science fiction novels. His fiction often contains macabre, grotesque and perverted situations and grisly deaths. He said once that his novels enabled him to express an inner him that he would never act out. Many writers will create characters that they share many traits with. I undertook a part time course many years ago in creative writing. We were taught to write from what we know as a starting point. A whole term was dedicated to autobiographical writing. This was very challenging for me particularly as this followed on from a serious and lengthy bout of depression. This depression ended my career in the NHS and changed my life and those around me forever. The day I was retired from my job was the day I lost my identity. I recovered from depression but was left with the scars (as was everyone close to me). It  has been a downhill  journey from then on. I have tried to reinvent a purpose through my conservation work and obtaining a degree.
The creative writing course seemed more therapeutic at the time but looking back it proved to be more than just writing therapy. I do think all creative writing is a release however brief and whatever the context. Sophie Dahl wrote a cookbook a couple of years ago to accompany a television series. The book has recipes and the usual cookbook formula. It also has extensive autobiographical text talking about her experiences with food and life. It is wonderfully written and must have been quite a cathartic process for her. Her grandfather of course was famous for writing children’s books that children loved as opposed to what their parents wanted them to love. They portrayed adults often as horrible, disgusting creatures who are mean, cruel and spiteful. They all get their comeuppance in his books. His adult work is often similar in the polarities of right and wrong he portrays. He writes wonderful twists in stories and his  plots must have been a joy to construct.
Some writers create worlds so extraordinary then fill them with ordinary characters. Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series of novels are based on the premise that the Discworld is a flat world rotating on the back of a giant turtle (Great Atuin) supported on that turtles back by four giant elephants. It is full of trolls ,witches, wizards , goblins, dwarves, assassins but many ordinary people. They experience the fantastic but are very normal. He enables the reader to accept the world and its inhabitants without question. JRR Tolkien created not only a world in Middle Earth but its entire history and folktales. The attention to detail is astonishing and his storytelling is in many ways an echo of the Norse and Icelandic myths. Tolkien yet again though makes you care about the central characters and want them to triumph over evil.
These last two writers also have poured much of themselves and their interests into their writing but it can be harder to work out.
Good writers should be able to engage the reader and encourage them to want to turn the page. I started writing two years ago. I first wrote my first post in a blog only in  October 2011. It took great courage to man up and post something. It was only a brief tongue in cheek moan about a colleague in my voluntary job. I now write five blogs in total even venturing into the world of poetry. I wrote my first book a year ago and have it complete in notebooks. I am also writing an older children’s novel which is enormous fun to write. That is the key though with writing. It is fun in a hard world where reality doesn’t match up to my imagination.  It matters as I am increasingly finding it hard to articulate verbally what I feel emotionally. I can write these feelings, sometimes into a character far easier than talk about them. I have had this insecurity all my life that I am boring and people will soon get fed up of me. In my imagination though I can conjure up vivid, expressive, passionate scenarios that light up my dull existence. Writers must be difficult people to live if I am indeed to be considered a writer. When does one become a writer? Is it the magic word ‘published’ that identifies one as a writer? Do you have to get paid for your work to validate your role? I have tried my hand at pottery and art. I immensely enjoyed pottery particularly because of Fiona the teacher. She made me smile when that was hard to do. The art was less enjoyable but our house is full of my low quality watercolours as a result.
Writing though is different. My head is full of ideas for future literary work. I have also realised that other writers work also matters as I enjoy reading even more now. I mentioned recently in either a tweet or a blog post, about what I considered the difference between a journalist and a fiction writer. A journalist writes or comments about what is happening in the world. A fiction writer writes about what is going on in their world and lets you in to discover this. I am not good at writing about real life. I can invent a real life (see Andy in the attic) and weave a bit of me in.
I have found what matters to me. I don’t write to get fame or a publishing deal. These would be very welcome by-products though. I write because I need to. It helps me make the everyday more bearable for me and those I share my life with. The Kindle has taught me one thing almost straight away. You concentrate on what the author is writing far more in this format as there is very little else you can do. I will always love the feel, the smell, the moment when you open a real book. I have also realised that we live in a small house full with family and far too many books proportionately. The Kindle is the obvious next move to keep the wonderful world of literature accessible to me. So be kind to authors and writers throughout the world. They are working their little socks off to make your world that bit more enjoyable so you don’t have to try.


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