1: You’ve Got No Write

Writing is hard.

No, writing is easy. As I've said before, one of the great things about Not for the Faint-Hearted is turning out interesting and entertaining pieces of writing in three minutes. One of my NFTFH pieces, with very little editing, has been published as part of the Quick Fictions iPhone app, produced by Myriad Editions. Writing is easy (particularly when you compare it to arts like aerial acrobatics and boxing). I enjoy writing and it's certainly no worse a way to spend my spare time than running, reading or watching TV. My problem is what to do with the results. I've accumulated a lot of text, a word horde of interesting odd stories. And it's still growing.

My problem with sharing work comes down to whether I have the right. Everyone has so many demands on their time, particularly when there's a whole Internet to read. The writer Paul Ford gave an amazing speech, 10 timeframes, the start of which has stuck in my head:

There are 200 of you in this auditorium. So every minute I don’t talk saves about three-and-a-third hours of human time. That’s a pretty serious ratio. Every one of my minutes is collectively 200 of yours.

If I give someone something to read, I take up their time. I'm suggesting that this writing is more important than anything else they can do with 5 minutes or 5 hours of their time. It seems almost impolite to create these obligations for other people have when I work so hard to avoid distractions in my own life – do unto others, and all that.

Another question I have is whether sharing writing is just arrogant, attention-seeking behaviour. I've seen too many appalling poets at open mics who act as if they're doing the audience a favour by sharing the results of their creativity. Nobody wants to be the person who won't shut up and let everyone go to the bar.

So my work builds up. Clown Stories Volume 1 has been ready to print for a year. I have a few finished novels, all of which I like a lot, and only a few people have read them. I've never thrown the switch on Postal Press, or launched the Ghost Blog, even though these projects are ready to go. Nobody has seen my illustrated Fairyland booklet.

(At the start of my Creative and Critical Writing MA, I attended an amazing course by Dr. Amber Jacobs called 'On (Not) Being Able to Write' (the title was a reference to a book by Marion Milner). The seminars related the pathologies of writing to theories of British Psychoanalysis. As I remember it, Dr. Jacobs frequently compared writing to toilet training and this memorable imagery seems to fit with this current state of backlog)

One of the big issues most creative writing courses ignore is that of audience. Great Britain is turning out thousands of academically trained creative writers without considering what to do with all the work that is generated. Should I delete this writing? Put it online somewhere? Bury it like radioactive waste? Maybe the advantage of writing groups and creative writing is to provide an audience.

I’m a writer who hates sharing their work. I may not even share this.

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3 thoughts on “1: You’ve Got No Write”

  1. The question is why does one write? Besides purely selfish reasons like self-promotion and attention-seeking there can be more sincere ones like search for a new like-minded people, need for the discussion, criticism of ones ideas. Also, writing helps to sharpen your own thoughts, but there’s no really need to publish writings in this case.

  2. I like the idea of using writing to find like-minded people. It reminds me of Paul Celan who compared his poetry to “a message in a bottle, sent out in the—not always greatly hopeful belief that somewhere and sometime it could wash up on land.”

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