Monday, 27 February 2012

If I didn't write

Who would. 

That is the simple question I want everyone to have a think about today- the physical act of writing. The act that means transcribing emotions onto pages, of typing up reports on computers, of making notes on a rizla paper for jogging memories later. In writing things down we commit them- for better or worse- to the world. Whether they are lost or found, read and forgotten or never read again and burnt- for a while, those words existed. Once things exist, they cannot un-exist, can they. There is a knock on- a thought somewhere in the back of your mind that makes you act in a way surprising to yourself at a given moment. This stuff drives me whappy.

I love books, that is my confession. I love blank notebooks, scrawled on notebooks, tatty bits of paper in notebooks, notes in paperback books, poetry books, annotated books, picture books, coffee table books… you get the point. I just love them, that is my vice to which I will eternally pump money into. The question is, why do people write in the first place?

If I didn’t write I would have a busier social life. If I didn’t write I would probably be single. If I didn’t write I would probably go mad and become something of a complicated character. I write to balance things out. I write for therapy. I write just to see the cursor stroke away at a line of such drivel, my smug finger pressed on the backspace key. Writing is my way of putting thoughts down and maybe evaluating things for a second. Writing is also a place that drives me insane in other ways.

If I didn’t write I might have the dreaded block. If I didn’t write I probably wouldn’t care about things as much. If I didn’t write, maybe nobody else would- they could be as fed up as me, probably more so. The thinking is, if nobody bothered writing- who would tell the kids what is going on, who would argue the everyday issues in the papers, who would make readers pause to consider. I write a lot. If I didn’t write, a lot of other people might not write for it would have to be something pretty dramatic to quash it. But the block, the bloody block can drive you up the wall in just the same way.

I want to write all the time really. I have trade unionism poems stacked up in my head from my father. I have family memories, personal journeys and real life events itching to get out but there are days when, no matter how many times you ‘free write’ or  try and force the buggers out, they won’t come. Regular readers of this blog will know I try and write poems most days- at least in some way, shape or form. The days when it won’t come though… Well, I promised you guys a poem so see for yourself. The words weren’t there for me this week. I have the poems just itching to come out but, try as I might, they just won’t sit on a page and do as I tell them. I’ll persevere with them- but to be honest, I’ve been way too busy (births, birthdays, work, attendance essential family gatherings etc.)

The blockade I feel is self-imposed.

Writing poems vexes me
Or maybe angers, not annoys-
Too clumsy, sounds so childish.

The pen is down in minutes then
Original thought takes a running jump,
Runs scared, runs out, makes like a tree.

The cat is out of the bag again
My stolen simile, long since dead.
And, as I said before, I’m vexed
So the pen is down in minutes.


Whilst I was reading the local newspaper earlier, a customer started asking me the very same question I was hoping to put straight here. Why do I write? She had noticed the article on a poetry book launch (us, this Friday) and didn’t even know I wrote. She has a wartime journal and has been considering ways to pass on her own personal memories to her family. I just smiled quietly, hoping for her sake that she can get the words out.

Thanks for reading folks. Speak soon.




vicky ellis said...

I think writing counts as a social life, as long as you keep telling yourself you will show it to somebody one day.

The launch was in the Gazette? It's going to be busy!

Ashley R Lister said...

Shaun - delighted to hear the launch was mentioned in the Gazette. I should look for a copy of that, shouldn't I?

You said:
"If I didn’t write I would probably go mad and become something of a complicated character."

Now, I'm not trying to be contentious here but I think that might already have happened :-)

Great post,