Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Dreaming is free

I had a strange childhood really. My mother now openly admits that she doesn’t like children and I suppose back then, that showed. I am not bothered about not having loving doting parents, I just got on with things then and I still do now. I was never too bothered with books either. I read the primary school stuff, Noddy and some other Blyton things. I always loved Winnie the Pooh and still do, I have my Mum to thank for that. I remember enjoying Green Eggs and Ham by Dr Zeuss from the library, it was new then. My father did read books for a while, but I think as a younger man, when I was growing up, he was too busy farming and drinking.
For all she doesn’t like children, I get my love of writing and words from my Mum. She is never without a book in her hand and reads five or six per week. It is hard to impress her with my writing, she compares everything to the very highest level and I know I am not there yet. I am often too scared to show her things I have written and likewise, she is too sceptical of it to read it anyway. She would rather read the paper end to end or a book she has read three times already, than pick up one of mine that I may have nonchalantly left on the sideboard.
Going away to boarding school at barely 11 years old, I never really took to books in my teens either. My love of music developed at an early age, when I would spend hours marvelling at the song lyrics on the back of album covers by Led Zepplin or bob Dylan. I still do that although it never dawned on me to write a few of my own, I probably would have been quite good. Sadly I realised that I couldn’t play a note and a life of rock’n’roll would be quite difficult without that. I certainly didn’t write any more things at school than was required by class-work and gave up the subject of literature as soon as it was an option. That is quite ridiculous when I look back, I probably didn’t something like woodwork instead! 
Then on leaving school at a young age, farming, girls and drinking were all I cared about. It wasn’t till I was 26 that I set out in business on my own and then the huge task of learning to read everything, write things down as well as a competent level of salesmanship set me new challenges. I did all these with ease and enjoyed those years, but they afforded me little time to think of anything else and certainly not enough time to read fiction. I used to revel in story telling though, always keen to pick up on a recent funny situation and make it my own, or retell a joke with my own characters in it. That became my best sales pitch, I would laugh my customers into buying things.
I am not quite sure when the love of writing forced its way to the top of my todo list. It was always underlying, for twenty years I have known that one day I would be a writer. Famous writers speak of the torture of seeing an empty page and it mirroring an empty head, the old writers block. For me that has never been an issue. I like to talk, I love to tell stories. It is just a simple progression on to writing them down. My English teacher once told me it is the learning what not to say, that is harder than the spoken word. The same applies to me in written form. I quite literally can write 1000 words per hour and it isn’t until I read them back that I even know what I have written.
What I have learned to do more of now is to dream and I need to stop and do it even more often. I sometimes quote that my stories write themselves, just driving my fingers to the keys without passing through my brain. This in some instances is great, but at other time it is this that holds me back. A page of writing for writing’s sake is no better than a blank page, worse in fact. Sure, the more I write, the better I get with the practice, but if I am to succeed where perhaps I am failing right now, I need to stop, think, look, listen, and sometimes possibly walk away.
So I am scribbling this blog instead, as my head clears out the words that have built up through a few days and are begging to spill over the dam. I think maybe that is what a writers blog is for? Tomorrow I can get back to writing a story that I am loving with more clarity. Loving writing it is one thing. Loving reading what I have written with complete surprise and admiration, that is where the real enjoyment lies. I hope I can always achieve that, rather than being disappointed by seeing things in print that I know are not my very best.

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