Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Why I write. A short tale of love and hate.

I started writing as a way to record and release the feelings and emotions, the sparks and strife of my teens and early twenties. The things no one knew about, or even guessed at. My real writing has never been published because the process being so intensely personal and the subject matter so truthful, I have yet to completely be at ease with revealing myself in this way.

I still write as if someone is looking. Yes, I have a long, long way to go. But this no doubt explains why I karmically ended up starting in fashion and beauty magazine publishing - someone was always looking.

Early on I met some good writers, and worked at some fine titles. These writers rose to become great editors, chief editors and the like, equipped with an ability to edit for the beauty of contemporary language and context, through a honed instinct for place and time, not simply for the stamp of ego. They were as close to mentors as I will ever be comfortable with.

Further along, I met the someone’s. Someone’s were always looking – not always good, not always talented – but always looking. And always forgetting that the essence of writing flair isn’t about crafting pseudo-artistic paragraphs and foreign-title copycat prose.

It’s about either experiencing the subject and having an ability to convey it confidently, or being a magnificent observer of every little thing and its relationship, its context to the moment, and turning it into a subtle kind of magic prose. The kind that has an effect you don’t realise until you’ve finished reading. While these classifications may sound like each other, they’re not.

There isn’t too much I’ve written about thus far, that I can claim to be particularly ashamed of, whether it’s been about lipstick or lust. Believe me when I say this has nothing to do with an overblown sense of ability, or self-importance.

It has everything to do with secrets. The only-known-to-me hallmarks of my obsession with context, sentence structure, unusual word play, and passion, no, utter fetish, for vocabulary, are present in every piece I have ever produced. Tucked into paragraphs and titles, endings and beginnings, and everything in between.

It is these seemingly petty little things, or tics, which sets writers apart from aping writing. These things, and the near crazed inner workings of perfecting prose that over time, become the writer’s instinctive voice. There are many of us like this. Ask around however, and you may not get a straight answer. We do it, but sometimes, we have no idea how.

Of course this means that for much of my writing career, I’ve snubbed more deadlines than I’d like to recall, and annoyed more editors than I’ve wished to, while procrastinating about dazzling opening sentences, negotiating fluid content, and crafting witty (I hoped) and sardonic closes.

It has been my realisation that I’ve always had a love hate relationship with writing and will continue thus. It is in more ways than I previously understood, my ultimate lover and eternal friend, grounding me, drawing me, saving me and repulsing me in uneven doses, that sometimes flip flop over months, or not at all.

It strangulates me too, with the sometimes lengthy, rules-less rhetoric I am prone towards - thought processes that don’t get full stops, just commas and breathers like – and; - breaths between words as if I had spoken or breathed not written them.

And as deep and as complicated as a long drawn out love affair, writing for me, comes complete with the panic that if I stop writing, I, stop. Coupled with an odd, eroticism I’ve always associated with the actual process.

That, and the wanting to, but never really being able, to leave.

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