Why I write, continued.

Why I write, part five.


Some reasons to write. Vanity. Maybe, a bit. Politics. They’re in there. Preservation of histories, mine, ours. Anger; unresolved, redirected, worked out. For the love of language, the malleability of it, the carpentry of poems. And love, sometimes, maybe, if I am brave enough.

Why I write, part six

A Mystery.

Sometimes I wish I didn’t have to do this. Writing should be fun. A privilege. What metaphor can I employ to tell you how dissatisfied I am with my latest poem?  How about a hydro-electric metaphor? I am dissatisfied with my failure to convert the wave containing idea and emotion into a form of electricity. When the poem, or the genus of the poem arrived, it felt powerful, smooth, inevitable, generous, gorgeous.
Where did that energy come from? Where is it now?

Why I write, part seven.

I’m in a metaphorical dance hall. There is a lot of potential distraction.
There is possibility in the air.  There is a poem here somewhere, waiting to dance. I’m shy, but I gather courage. The poem takes my hand at my first approach. This feels natural, although I’m slightly nervous and slightly high with excitement. We dance for a while. I have not trodden on its feet. I have not said or done anything to cause offence, to cause it to leave. I’m playing it cool. But not too cool. We will dance. We will practice. We will become complete.

Why I write, part eight.

There were nursery rhymes. There were all kinds of jazz records with voices and rhythms and wonderful lyrics. There was my sister’s pop and rock. There was a transistor radio. There was ‘If I Had a Hammer’. There were hymns. There was ‘Top of the Pops’.

Why I write, part nine.

Kerouac and wearing black.

I’m sixteen and I’ve met a guy at FE college who writes poems. I’ve written poems myself, to be read only by my girlfriend. This guy is serious. He has long hair and wears black, even in summer. He doesn’t try to get his poems published. We don’t care or know about any of that. It is enough to be poets and wear black boots even in summer and smoke. We are poets, even though I have only read a bit of Dylan Thomas and Ted Hughes and I only write a few (although I mean what I write and remember them still) and never show them to a soul.

Why I write, part ten

I think maybe I’ve got used to this rush that is like nothing else. Here it comes, the swell. I am riding the poem, I am on it, I am cutting through the tunnel of the wave forever

Why I write, part eleven

There is a block of stone in the middle of my afternoon. There is a poem inside. I must get my tools. I’ll go to get them slowly, or at a run, depending on how daunting the block is,  how sharp my tools are and where I’ve left them.


Why I write

Why I write, part one.

My exercise book comes back with ‘see me’ written in it. But it’s ok. This time there are lots of ticks in red pen and an ‘excellent’ at the end.
The teacher wants to tell me that I’ve written a really good story. Crucially, I already know it is a good story. When she asked me if this is all my own work, I am able to lie convincingly since I am convinced . I am able to lie convincingly because  although I know that my story has been heavily ‘based’ on the Puffin book I’ve read and loved, I know the story is still mine.  I have inhabited the story, and this, and my subversion and adoption of it, makes it all the more mine . I’m ten years old and I’ve been rushed along in the writing of it. I’ve felt older than I am, in control, and though I don’t know how to describe this feeling, I have been simultaneously lost and found. My teacher asks me to read my story aloud to the class. She records my reading on a cassette tape. She has overlooked my undulating pencilled handwriting, the phonetic spelling, the doubtful provenance, the backwards d’s and b’s. Thank you, Mrs Goodman.

Why I write, part two.

Almost forty years have passed. I’m typing this at speed, crouched over the keyboard, shouting downstairs to my son to turn the telly off, help himself to cereal if he’s still hungry after the tea I’ve made for us. I’ve been driven to this keyboard. The washing up is still to be done, tomorrows sandwiches are yet to be made. The desire to communicate has surfaced despite the fact that my wrists and forearms, shoulders and back, are sending messages of pain that I suspect are familiar to many writers, some of whom may not even out of their thirties. The pains are related to poor posture, repetitive strain, possibly carpel tunnel. I wake up with pain. It fluctuates. It is self inflicted. When I’m in a mood to communicate, as I am now, the pain is a chronic irrelevance. It shoots up my arms to let me know I am transgressing some limit; that late night stint at the keyboard or those days of intensive writing, unproductive, transcendent or somewhere in-between, have extracted a price.

I am writing this to post on the internet, that incredible interface between us which allows me to publish what I am writing almost as soon as I have thought it and also allows you to respond if you so wish. For this reason  I feel the need to add that I don’t need advice about desk ergonomics, anti-inflammatory drugs, Pilates, the benefits of core strength exercise or swimming. I know. I should look after myself. I know this in the same way a smoker knows that he or she should not smoke. Thank you for your concern, if, indeed,  you are concerned. And if you are suffering as I am, then please, see a doctor and  think about your writing posture.
But my point is this. Despite each key-strike causing pain, despite the fact I will receive no financial gain from this piece, I’m still writing it and what I want to know is, why?

Why I write, part three

It is 1980. I am going to a party. Yellow socks are in. People are snogging all-over the front room of someone’s house. The girl whose parents own the house are out. Her name is Susannah or Jane and I don’t really know her or how I got invited. I meet a girl. We start going out.  She is impressed when I give her some poems I’ve typed. Need I say more?

Why I write, part four

It is nearly two o’clock in the morning. I think this poem is finished. If I were in a frame of mind for analysis, I might find I have explained something of my own life to myself. I will hopefully have explained it in a way which might reflect someone else’s life. For now, in this moment, I have transformed the world. My past has collided with my present in mid-air and there has been a miraculous controlled landing. I am tired but elated. For now.