Wednesday, March 26

If immitation is the highest form of flattery, then I write because I like reading

If I'm writing about writing, I suppose I should write about why I write.

Partly, I suppose, because I like sentences like that. Language is fun. Layout is fun; I like visualising sentences and paragraphs. I like knowing when I want to use italics or bold or underline, when to use uppercase or lowercase, whether I want a comma or a semi-colon, which font I want and how I'm going to place the heading.

I don't write because I feel I have to. I wouldn't go mad if I couldn't write (well, I've not put it to the test). I don't have the characters clammering in my head. I don't miss it when I don't write. I don't feel a desperate need to share my thoughts with the world. I don't need to write.

But I still do, and I always have.

I remember writing a story about foxes on a little black-and-green screen computer. I can't have been more than about six. It was, and I think I realised this even at the time, not very good. If I could remember why I'd sat down to write that story, I'd know why I write now; instead, I can only surmise based on the fact that it was very heavily inspired by Farthing Wood:

If immitation is the highest form of flattery, then I write because I like reading. Simple.

I write for the same reason I made tomato soup cake last week. Because I felt like it. I was inspired (by a recipe, I hasten to add), and I had time, and I wanted to enertain myself. The cake, by the way, was probably the best cake I've ever made, though the icing was a bit of a disaster. If you want the recipe, let me know.

The Dark is very much tomato soup cake. Greenhelm is more of a three course meal, I suppose, and god only knows what the rest is. I enjoy writing far more than I enjoy cooking. Cooking is a chore; it's something I have to do to live. If I had to write to live, I wouldn't enjoy it either. I have no intention of ever becoming solely an author; I need structure in my day to tell me when I'm 'on' and when I'm 'off'. Doing an arts degree hammered that home, but I already knew it from watching my mother work from home. I don't want to be wandering around at ten o'clock at night feeling obliged to work because I 'wasted' the morning cleaning the house (or rather, I would have not cleaned the house because it would have felt like wasting the morning, and spent the time watching TV and feeling guilty instead). I earn money to live from nine to five; I buy food and collect prescriptions and pay council tax on days I'm not at work; I write whenever I have a day I'm not doing either. At the moment, that's not actually very often, but I need to stop accepting quite so many extra days at work (I don't feel bad, because on quiet days I can write at work, but it's just mindless jottings and feels more productive than it actually is).

I like writing best at night, when it's raining, with a candle lit and Einaudi playing. To be honest, I just like being when it's like that, but I'm not good at doing nothing (I prefer to be doing at least two things at once; right now I have five tabs open on firefox and Walking with Monsters on tv and a casserole cooking), and writing is the most context appropriate thing to be doing. I don't like writing after work, unless I've had a hugely inspirational day, and I don't like writing when I've been running around doign prosaic things all day. I don't like writing when I know there's going to be a cut off point, like before work, and I don't like writing when there are guests in the house, even if they aren't here to see me. I don't like writing in silence, but I don't like writing with music with lyrics playing.

Despite all this, I still like writing, and that's why I do it. I like it because I like reading. Immitation - flattery. Writing.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think there's something more honest and genuine to those pursuits, the ones we do because we love rather than because we feel, whether neurotically or genuinely, that we must. There's something so much more natural and joyful there. Allowing it to happen rather than being desperate to vomit it out. (Oooh ugly metaphor, weeee!)