Friday 6 July 2012

Are You Sitting Comfortably? (A Writer's Tale)


Stephen R. Hulse

What does writing mean to me?
     Well, at this particular moment it means sitting in front of my computer typing with two fingers - but very fast fingers...even if I am using only two of them. Oh, I do have more - I mean it's not like I only have just the two - I have eight of them, and two thumbs... but when I'm writing, six of those fingers and both of those thumbs have a holiday, because I never learned to touch type. No, I'm ashamed to admit that I didn't lose the other fingers fighting a duel, or defusing an unexploded bomb or even saving the yummy Miss Priestley from the huge, salivating, razor-sharp jaws of a Great White Shark somewhere in the crystal clear blue waters off the Barrier Reef or anything heroic and exciting, because I didn’t.
     Of course, I could tell you I did... but I'd be lying...well, technically I wouldn't be lying... I'd be "writing". I'd be creating a fiction. In this case a fiction just for you, but a fiction all the same.
     But yep, okay, you've got me... it still wouldn't be true...only it would; because I'm a writer and that's what we writers do... we tell stories.
     Sometimes those stories are sad - sometimes funny - sometimes a little of both with just a dash of something else mixed in to make things even more interesting - and don't faint; but sometimes they might even be true.
     But they're still basically stories. Silly, wonderful, beautiful, amazing, breath-taking, eye-widening, heart-stopping, pulse-racing - sometimes even yawn-inducing - but still stories.
     I can't begin to tell you how to write or even where ideas come from. (Although "where do you get your ideas?" is the single most asked - and single most impossible to answer question - a writer is constantly asked.) If you were asked by someone why you nicked your best mate's last Hob Nob while he wasn't looking, or why you think Johnny Depp is the hottest guy walking around on two legs, could you easily answer?
     Then welcome to the "I Don't Know The Answer...Honest, Club". Because that's what it's like for a writer all - and I do mean all - the time!
     Sometimes we writers will give long, twisty-turny, very deep and important sounding explanations if we're backed into a corner - but pssssttttt.... don't tell anyone, will ya? The answers are fake.
      Made-up, fictions... more stories invented to get people off our backs so we can get back to the really important business of doing everything and anything we can think of except what we're actually supposed to be doing; writing. And you know exactly what I mean by that - you do it all the time - come up with clever, stupid, unlikely excuses for not doing your latest homework assignment or project or the chores or whatever... but you're doing exactly the same thing…
     Only you’re not getting paid for it. (Hang on a second… I’m not getting paid for this either! Which is just as well, because if I was being paid for this Mao my cat would be eating cardboard for, oh… about a month… - I don’t come cheap.)
     Look, I’ve gabbed away for over 724 words now telling you lot about  nothing and a little about a lot.
     But what it all comes down to at the end of the page is this…
     I write because it touches people.
     Young people, old people, smart people, not so smart people – everybody’s welcome to the party.
     Everybody can read the words that come tripping off the end of my two – very fast – fingertips, and perhaps smile or frown, laugh or cry, be bored or be interested… but whatever their reaction – whatever else happens - for a little while (even if it’s just a teeny-tiny moment) if I’m very lucky; I’ve made them think or feel or look at something in a slightly different way than they did before.
     So what does writing mean to me? It means I made a difference. Maybe not a big, “It’s Gonna Change The World” kind of difference; but a small almost unnoticeable difference.
     And sometimes, just sometimes - it’s the tiny differences that turn out to be the most important.

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