This dates from five years ago, believe it or not. You will, probably, because youweren’treadingme back then.
I’m writing this in my local pub. This is my natural social milieu, and nobody seems to mind if I sit in a corner punching the keyboard. In some ways I’m regarded as a mascot -‘That weird guy who sits there typing all the time,’ that’s me.
I’m not antisocial, and can talk nonsense with the rest of them, but simply sitting and listening/watching is something I really enjoy. Some great ideas emerge too; the pub conversation in the first chapter of Charlie and Me actually happened. It’s almost verbatim. Other people’s lives, eh?
There is a downside. People find out that I’m writing, not surfing, and all too often come out with that time-honoured line – ‘I should write a book about my life, that’s a story worth telling.’
Aside from the fact that most of those people have led lives of almost hypnotic ordinariness – I’m not being snippy here, but what they tell me is often not very interesting at all except to themselves, which isn’t the point – why do they feel they have to tell me they ought to be a writer? I try to keep my temper under control, and tend to say ‘Well, why don’t you just do it? Get on your computer, or buy a notebook and grab a pen. Just write. It doesn’t matter if it’s crap. You can always go back and change it. But get it down on paper.’
‘Ooh. I couldn’t. And I don’t have the time.’
At this point I have to bite my tongue. What they mean often is that they simply can’t be bothered. All talk and no action about writing irritates me. Either you want to write or you don’t. If you do, then do what I did, and actually do it. Most of Charlie and Me was written while I was working 15 hour shifts, six days a week*, and had to write in the early hours of the morning. I averaged about four hours of sleep a night. Perhaps that’s why some of it is a bit surreal; sleep deprivation does some odd things…
I’m not sure if what I write is any good. I don’t care. I’ve done it. Like it or don’t, I don’t really care. But to be horribly honest, and biased and judgemental, if you can’t string two words together in a coherent way, don’t tell me you could be a writer. You can only be one by being one, and I don’t need you to tell me how to go about it.
I guess that was a rant.
*Sunday was almost day off. Only six hours then.