October 04, 2008

Why A Writer? (I sit and stare...)

I sit and stare. This empty screen can be the most daunting thing there is. I mean, it’s not just like turning on a tap, it’s not like going into babble mode and hoping it makes sense. The brain must choose which finger to place on which key, and do it several thousand times, and at some point it all has to make sense.

I sit and stare, and feel alone. I feel like the time they chose up teams, remember that? The first of a lifetime of embarrassing rituals to which we were subjected. Cricket in the park had always been fun, but school team choosing was a process of humiliation and degradation based on oily, shifting peer groups that moved sideways even as the picking took place. When it’s down to just you, the geek with taped-up glasses and the fat kid with shit-stained pants, better get some new friends, or pick a different sport. It’s an old story.

I sit and stare. Like the time that Jenny said “Look, I really want to be your friend, but that’s all… With him, it’s different, you know? Didn’t he tell you? He should have.” Yes, I know. No, he didn’t. Yes, he should have, he was supposed to be my best friend. When it’s just you, sitting in your car with that slapped-face look, watching them walk to his house and shut the door, better get some new friends, or cast your net wider. It’s an old story.

So, I sit and stare at what I’ve written, wondering why those words, why now? What little twists of memory combined with the minute synaptic twitches that formed these actions, pounding plastic keys with these two clumsy fingers, forming hieroglyphs that you will read, or not. When it’s just you, sitting at that keyboard, just remember that, at that moment, all those others out there are your friends. Looking into their own personal stores of hurt, of dreams and triumphs, wins and losses, they try to form and order their own lives into something that makes sense, something that justifies the pain.

At last, you don’t need new friends, just new stories.



  1. Yeah, it's tougher than childbirth...

    But how great is it when it all comes together?


  2. It's great, innit? Until all the friends and rellies start peering into the pram, saying "Ooh, his head's a bit lopsided, doncha think?" and "Hmm, his ending's a bit dull..." But the creative act is nearly as much fun. Nearly...


  3. Sadly, these days most of my work falls victim the the backspace key. I keep having those "Dear god, what have I created?" moments. I think it's called Victor Frankenstine synderome. or should be.

    Nice blog Ian. I'll keep a tag on it.

  4. Thanks rory - let a few loose over at the Bar. You know what they're like, if they don't like 'em, they'll stamp on 'em!