Why I Write (It Ain’t Pretty)

I write because I have no choice in the matter. The words are inside and they need to come out, sometimes in a rapid flow, sometimes like squeezing blood from a stone. I write every single day of the year. I don’t want a break from it; in fact, it feels wrong if I don’t write.
As I grow older, this compulsion, this obsession, grows stronger, and I come to define myself more and more as a writer. I’m one of the lucky ones, since a fair bit of what I finish these days gets published in one way or another, even if it’s no more than one of these blog pieces.
Writing is my gift and my curse. It’s also what I’ve dreamed of doing since I was 11 years old. At school we had to write an essay, to tell a story in three paragraphs. It was an exercise, of course, so show us how to use paragraphs for developing a thought. But after I’d finished my piece, it was as if a switch had clicked in me. That’s how it’s done!
Writing might be an art but it’s also a craft. I wrote plenty of unpublished novels, short stories that perhaps saw print somewhere or other but were mostly rejected. And rightly so, even if I was less certain at the time. The craft part has come from years of music journalism, where there isn’t the luxury of time to go through endless revisions, and you learn to pick the right word or phrase the first time. And good editors who pushed and prodded me.
But I’m not an artist. I’m an entertainer, someone who tries to take people out of their lives for a few hours and make them believe in somewhere else, some other time. There is no magic, perhaps, beyond sleight of hand. When a book is finished, people are back in themselves again. They might enjoy what they’ve read, but only a few books have the power to change people’s lives. I’m not sure I’d even want mine to be among them.
I’m just a person who sits down at the computer in the morning and writes down the movie playing in my head. If I’m lucky it’s because the film rarely breaks or fades to scratches and white noise. I’m still the 11-year-old understanding how this can work. And doing it because I have to.

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