Sunday, 4 November 2012

The Gift of Being a Writer

To be completely honest, I’m loving the slower, less pressured pace of writing for NaNoWriMo. I’m not working to get ahead yet. Instead, I’m writing the minimum and then spending my time reading on writing and in my genre, and it feels really peaceful.
Along with reading Jane Eyre for inspiration, I’m also working through ‘Bird By Bird – Some Instructions on Writing and Life’ by Anne Lamott. First of all I recommend it because she is a hilarious writer. You read each sentence and think ‘yup, that was the best possible way that sentence could have been written’.
So, moving on from Ray Bradbury, I’m going to share some wisdom from Anne Lamott today.
One thing she just mentions in her introduction that gave me food for thought, and inspiration, was on the benefits of being a writer (rather than just writing).
(P. xii)
‘One of the gifts of being a writer is that it gives you an excuse to do things, to go places and explore. Another is that writing motivates you to look closely at life, at life as it lurches by and tramps around.’
It is one of those things you might have realized early on, one of the things that drew you to writing. It is something I knew, and even have commented on here, but still need to be reminded every once and again.
I remember when I was about 15 I was staying with my godmother (whom I loved dearly) but got dragged along to the Annual General Meeting of the Farmers Association (or some such). It was held in the small town’s pub and included dinner and lots of speeches. The only way I agreed to go (not holding out much hope for my godmother’s suggestion that perhaps there would be cute boys there) was if I could take my pad and paper with me.
I sat through the meeting describing the people around me. They really were very easy as it was almost as if they were caricatures rather than normal human beings, and my descriptions could only add more depth and character. I also noted down the conversations around me, though I felt rather bad about this because it was eavesdropping, and eavesdropping because I thought they were amusing. However, it made what would otherwise have been an extremely boring, lonely night, something of a game.
I was actually pretty pleased with myself when at one point in the evening a man asked me if I was a reporter. Why a reporter would bother to come to this meeting was beyond me, but I took it as a compliment that I looked like a real writer.
If I had gone there without my pen and paper, I would have just been a loner, out of place in a crowd. But give me my tools and I have purpose. My silence and isolation is to only better my great work.
So what I suppose I’m trying to say is that the curse of being a writer is that you spend lots of time alone. The gift of being a writer is that you never have to be lonely.

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