Wednesday, April 13, 2011

How to be a writer.

I have wondered how to be a writer all of my life.

The things I have tried...
Mills and Boon f'rinstance. I thought it would be easy money when I was a young wife and mother. I dedicated myself to researching the genre to get that famous formula right. Of course I didn't, but my (not yet) ex-husband had the most pleasurable months of his life as I found the books a little racy and quite inspiring. He would have been happy (a word hitherto little recognised in our house) if I had stuck to Mills and Boon and never earned a penny.

.http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/mar/21/mills-and-boon-art-portrait

 I've written an episode of Casualty that reads like a pantomime, and a radio sitcom for BBC Talent... neither of which won despite complimentary condolence letters. I (nocturnally) nurtured whisky-fuelled poems when I went through my Jim Morrison phase;  food was optional but absolutely anything else 'went'.  I lost two whole days once and those 25 year old poems still win the odd competition. You can see why artists abuse and torment themselves - it makes tremendous economic sense.
There were songs too. I have folder after folder of 3-chord songs that I'd wail across valleys and housing estates, trains and stages in an effort to make sense of the confusion of my life.view details
The short stories were observational and humorous mostly. Maybe they'd count as essays or articles. I am not sure.
I entered the many lands of Bookworld from the moment that I could warble the alphabet and wandered their shores and skies 'til giving birth made it impossible to read and change a nappy simultaneously. I hope the Kindle will change all that for the next generation.
I remember, aged 14, 'helping' my mother by pushing a trolley round Tesco but completely unable to put down  Dumas', 'The Three Musketeers'. 

I wandered down the aisle at a varied pace, mole-blind to my surroundings,  right arm working my pecs to keep the book at the required distance from my thirsty eyes.  I can only imagine that my mother had to shop like someone on a fairground stall, trying to pitch assorted goods into a moving receptacle from her place at the shelves.
But honestly, who wouldn't rather buckle their swash with handsome, devilish cavaliers than be pushing Fray Bentos and Windolene around in their  wonky-wheeled carriage?  I adored Aramis; searching for piety and yet so very flawed. A fallen angel. He made me feel quite hot under the collar and years later, he came to be in one of my poems, in the raw, sexual guise of The Lizard King himself.


My early poems were full of sex. Lust swelled up and spilled out of them, leaving the (male only) readers I allowed to peak at them, a little flushed and heading home for a bit of a lie down. Sometimes I went with them.view details

But back in '79  after the 'Trolley-Gate' incident involving an elderly man, the bagatelle sounds of metal colliding and some bruised fruit, my presence was no longer required in the frozen aisles of this new fangled supermarket way of doing.  I was allowed to read, unhindered by trolleys, in the concrete carousel seating outside the car park. Bliss!

In recent years I have produced training courses, promotional materials and sent enormous e-mails whether people want to read them or not. I keep 3 diaries simultaneously and write shopping lists that I never read. I take hours to write a tiny FB status update since everyone knows that the wording has to flow like a haiku and provoke laughter or stimulate thought. I write letters of commendation, complaint or explanation.

As I sat on the train on Monday and wondered yet again how to become a writer, shy tears of recognition rolled onto my face; hostages of truth gingerly blinking in the light.

Writing makes a writer.

 I am a writer. It's who I am.

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