I shall endeavour to make a point.
I shall invariably fail.
Are we all sitting comfortably? Then let’s begin.
Before I go any further I’ve a confession to make: I am a horrible, horrible fraud. I offered to do a guest post here at 12 books and was ready to dive headlong into all manner of topics. But alas, I cannot. The guilt is just too much. You see, I’m not actually a writer.
I can hear your gasps of shock. People like Ali are writers. People who do crappy dead end temp jobs to scrape by while they fill every remaining waking hour with frenzied writing. They go and do interviews, write reviews, submit stuff to things and generally go about the business of writing like they’re possessed by a slightly benign demon. These are real writers, people willing to try and take a bash at making a living out of words. If you cut people like them they bleed ink and the resulting droplets on the floor would read like the thesaurus entry for “Ow.”
Me? Well I’m a scientist. It’s my day job, it’s what I do. I just masquerade as a writer on the internet. Like I said, I’m a horrible, horrible fraud. Writing for me is just something I occasionally do when I’m either in a state of abject boredom or simply wish to quiet the voices in my head. I also find it’s a passable way to vent bile and prevent myself from exploding with indignation. Most of the time it’s something I just try to do and instead find myself starting at the flickering gamma hues of a monitor for three hours before finally giving up.
“But Mister Verbumancer!” I hear you cry. “Don’t you blog four or five times a month as well as writing at least one short story?”
Although this may be the case, I still don’t consider myself a real writer.
Now, we can debate semantics over what a real writer is indefinitely, but at the end of the day you’re not the one writing this post so instead you’re just going to have to shut up and listen. Because right here, right now, I’m in charge.
A proper writer, in my books, has at least some aspect of aspiration to their writing. They want to be published, they want to be acknowledged and recognised. They’ve got real goals. I, however, am a realist. I know that I’m far too lazy and unmotivated to ever get my act together and write something a hundred thousand words long, never even mind about making it a good hundred thousand. The only thing that sustains my paltry writings these days is guilt.
When I started writing again at the beginning of 2011 it was because of guilt. I liked writing, but never did any. So I started a blog. Then I was fuelled by the guilt of schedule – I had a blog, it had to be updated every week and if it wasn’t I’d feel guilty. Then when I started running out of things to say, I had to up my game. I went and started the Pictonaut Challenge. That’d give me an easy two, maybe even three posts a month, and on top of that a short story too. Sorted. But now guilt forces me to write over two thousand words a month. Then people started reading my blog, I couldn’t pack it all in, I’d feel like I was letting people down. I’d feel guilty.
Despite the fact I don’t think of myself as a writer I have found myself enslaved to it. Realistically I know I will never be a multi-award winning best seller, I doubt I’ll ever even be published, but it doesn’t really seem to matter. I just can’t seem to stop. Writing is something insidious. It crawls under your skin and gets ground into your open pores when you’re looking the other way. It eats out your brain and replaces it with a hole to the vortex of imagination, it gnaws away your gut and fills it with ink. Writing is a highly contagious disease you want to share with all your friends.
Perhaps I’m more of a writer than I willing to admit.
So if you’re thinking about starting to write, be warned: you might not be able to stop.
For those readers willing to partake of the highly destructive and addictive drug that is writing, The Rogue Verbumancer runs a monthly short story exercise called the Pictonaut Challenge on his blog. Participation, although not mandatory, would be greatly appreciated.