Almost every day I feel the need to write. But I need to have a purpose. A reason. An objective. I’ve never been good with a blank page. Sitting at a piece of blank paper, pen in hand. Or sitting at a computer with a blank word processing page staring back at me.
It’s taken a long time for this writing seed to germinate within me. I was so very bad at writing stories at school. When we were asked to write stories at school – I hated it. Sitting in a classroom, waiting for inspiration to come. For, although we might have been allowed to write an essay or piece of fiction at home, we were usually asked to start it in class. And that was usually in primary school, where you had the same teacher all of the day. So, there could be an hour we were given to start writing. Well, I usually sat at a blank page for almost half that time, guaranteed. Then I would eventually come up with a rather bland and matter-of-fact account of something. My memories of school are all but non-existent. That “trauma” thing of wiping out all the bad from your mind. It means I tend not to have the clearest memory of school days. Just vague snapshots of things. So, perhaps we were given a particular subject, say “taking a bus trip”, or “visiting the zoo” – some kind of topic to write about but for it to be broad enough to allow for the kids with the best imaginations to concoct magnificent stories.
I was NOT one of them.
And I never associated good writing not being about story-telling or the fictitious. Either I had really shitty teachers or I just wasn’t at school enough, but I don’t ever remember a single teacher explaining to me that good writing didn’t have to be about “a story”. A piece of fiction. And because I wasn’t very good at creative writing, per se, I believed for such a long time that I wasn’t any good at writing.
And that feeling – those things you believe about yourself when you’re young, at least for me anyway, have stayed locked in my mind. I feel…adequate with the written word. I feel I can express myself far better with the written form. I have felt that way for some time now.
The thing that blows me away. The thing that has been a revelation to me is feedback from others about my writing. The genuine positive feedback and acknowledgement I receive from people reading posts on my blog. Or reading things I post on my Facebook feed. And they come from learned people. People who had much more schooling than I did. People with more education than I. Ones with university degrees. One person in particular with a degree in English literature for heaven’s sake!
And that makes me want to believe I am actually GOOD at this writing malarky.
I feel so…defeated. Beaten by everything. I sit here and think about my age. And I try to think of it objectively. “Fifty is the new forty”, and all that guff. That, in essence, I am potentially only half-way through life. Or even when I consider logically the age of the people I have known who have passed away in recent years, my mum, my parents-in-law – into their 80s – that I am two thirds of the way through my life. My mum was 81 when she passed away. If I live to a similar age, I have 30 years left to go in this thing called “life”.
If I think about that expanse of time since 1991, that’s a lot of time. And a lot of time to go for someone to have “nothing in particular” going on in their life. Which, in the grand scheme of things, is how the past 30 years have been for me. Oh, I could make it sound a lot, sure enough. Getting married, moving to the other side of the world…nah, that’s basically it. Apart from the past five or so years, not a lot has gone on. Really not much at all. Do I want the next 30 to be like that? No. My life feels wasted. I feel ssoooo unworthy of every breath I draw. But I am scared of trying to give it significance. To try and find a purpose. WHAT’S MY PURPOSE?! To make people feel better about their own predicament? “At least I’m not Larelle. What a waste of space and oxygen she is, fuck me.” Yet, I know deep down the only person that actually feels that way about me is me. Except – I AM LARELLE! Lol. I am me! And I can’t escape myself.
I talked to a friend about university. About what it was like for them and what happened and how they managed to study and find the focus, etc, etc. And they tell me it’s not too late and I am not too old and I could do university if I wanted to. That I could be good at learning and enjoy the experience. “You’d walk through it.” That I could take my time.That it doesn’t have to be a race. But…time is ticking! And I am already “old”.
Twenty eight. That was my “golden age”. That’s the age at which I found that the core fundamental makeup of my psyche feels like it hasn’t altered. I still feel essentially the same way, I think, since that age. That’s my marker.
Did I want to write at 28? I think I must have done. I had been working for a couple of years by then in the most stable job I had ever had in my life. It wasn’t a glamorous job. It was white-collar work, but low grade. I wanted to advance but the opportunity didn’t come my way and then I left the job. Before I left the job, I made a major financial purchase. I gave myself a choice of two options. It was either buy a car and get my driver’s licence, or it was buy a home computer. I thought about it rationally. Tried to categorise the pros and cons of both options. I decided on the PC because I felt it meant that the whole world was open to me. That I could travel the world with a PC, rather than be confined by the “from A to B” travel that a car would give me. That is how I perceived it anyway.
And to some extent that is what happened as a result of that PC purchase. Had I not made that one financial investment, then I doubt I’d be sitting here where I am now, in a room in a house in north Glasgow, typing out this dialogue.
I enjoy it. I love it. I love the feeling of catharsis it gives me. I feel purged every time I write. I feel like it helps make sense of MY world. My own inner thoughts. How I then make that…insightful, thought-provoking, entertaining for others? I don’t know. If I tried, if I was consciously trying to do that, then I’d fail. I wish I felt I had the tools to write better as a story-teller. I guess that’s what creative writing classes are for? Has every writer that has ever written a piece of fictional work gone to creative writing classes? Is that what is needed?
I can’t judge my own writing objectively. I’d like to feel because it feels such an outlet for me, that it gives me that sense of the purged and the cathartic, that it will mean I am (at least) moderately “good” at it. That, because I enjoy it so much that the expression that comes from it is a tangible result that others feel. That my enjoyment in the expression comes across on the page. That is all I can ask for right now.
And here we are. Some ninety minutes later from looking at the blank page on the PC screen and there are over 1300 words written. (The “word count” feature is my friend!)
I wrote something. And it feels good!
Thank you for taking the time to read it.