I heard a line from an old Ani Difranco song recently and it made me think a little. the line was this one:
“Art is why i get up in the morning,
But my definition ends there,
and it doesn’t seem fair,
That I’m living for something,
I can’t even define.”
I have plenty of times where i question myself and what i do. Why i am a writer, and why do i put so much of myself into something that is so nebulous and so obviously doesn’t pay the bills. The answer comes back to something simple. Because I have to. Feeding that creative spark nurtures me in ways that nothing else does and I need it. Other than wanting to be a Jetfighter pilot when I was a little, being a writer is the earliest thing I can ever remember wanting to be. It has had times of being very submerged under the weight of getting a real job and being a proper grown up and a litany of things I did when I was younger because I thought it was what I should do, but that desire has never left me. During the years when I filed it as a youthful dream that i should just forget about, writing still spilled out of me in small ways. Random poems, phrases and sentences that i would scribble on scrap paper and ideas for stories would still come to me.
About a year ago now I pulled out a manuscript that I had written in my early 20s, It is somewhere in the vicinity of 60,000 words. I have no exact idea of the word count because it was written partly by hand and partly on a typewriter. There is no electronic copy of it with a handy automatic word count, so i can only estimate. Because, i do not have the patience to actually go through and physically count them. But it is a solid piece of writing that i spent a year and a half on, much of it was written in a notebook as I sat behind the counter of a little chinese restaurant that i worked at the time. For some reason the owner didn’t seem to mind that when it was quiet I just sat and wrote. Luckily for me at the time i guess.
When I dug that sheaf of paper out that I had carried with me through many, many moves I remembered that I have always had the intention to go back and finish it and try to have it published and I decided at that point to try this writing thing again and to give back to it the zeal that I had approached it with then, where I made myself keep writing regularly, even when I didn’t feel particularly inspired. because that is how I had managed to hammer out that sheaf of paper covered in words.
Why? Because even though I sometimes feel like a self conscious wanker for thinking it, I feel like I have something to say and because as two very important people once told me way back when “The world needs writers”.