Paeans - and Aches

over the years

Monday, June 19, 2006

Why I write

Annie says it best for me on her page:

“I write.

“Because I like words. Because I derive my sense of self (and my lack of the self-sense) from words. Because sometimes, words are the only refuge there is.

“Sometimes, I write for money.

“More often, I generate a lot of words, for neither love nor money.... but simply because there is nothing else I can do.”

It’s only gilding the lily, but let me add this.

If you have to find reasons why you must write, you don’t get it, and never will.

If you can argue in scholarly fashion about writing as an agent of social change, you don’t get it, and never will.

If you can go an entire month—or even a week—without feeling the need to write, never mind whether you actually put pen to paper or finger to keyboard, you don’t get it, and never will.

If you’ve never been consumed with envy because someone else has put in words what you haven’t been able to, if you’ve never spent an hour deleting and tasting and then putting back a word and tasting again and then deleting it again and then throwing a wadded up sheet of paper into a waste bin—and missing—you don’t get it, and never will.

If you’re still reading, perhaps you get it, and we can talk some more.

Being a writer is a part of me, not the whole. It doesn’t define me completely. I’m also a traveller, a gardener, a collector of trivial things, a wannabe artist, a never-will-be musician, a world changing utopian, a communist, a capitalist, a tech junkie, and lots more. But writing is an important part of me.

I’m on this board because it’s a chance to touch minds with others who share that obsession. Who understand, in fact that it’s not an obsession, it's just the way we are. Who understand that to not care about grammar and spelling and sentence construction and weighing the flavour of different synonyms is like being an engineer who despises knowledge of the load bearing strengths of different mixes of concrete.

We write. Why? Who gives a fuck? We just do. Now let’s move on.

I’m here to read what you consider your best work, to share mine with you, to learn, to share the little I have picked up along the way. To grow as a writer.

Sure, I can spend as many hours discussing social change and political correctness (or even—shudder—politics) as any of you. I’d love to. But let’s do that elsewhere. Over a coffee, or something stronger, into the small hours of the night.

Now, let’s write, shall we?

May your muse be kind.

(And if she won’t, tie the slut to the chair and don’t let her go till she does her job.)

Original title: Why I write, why I’m on this board.

Something I wrote an age ago, on Caferati, in response to one of those endless meandering “discussions” that so tire me out. Y’know, the role of the writer in society and suchlike masturbation.

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Monday, June 05, 2006

You are old, father Zig

“You are old, father Zig,” the kid made a moue,
     “Your face is almost all forehead.
Yet you wear your hair long and tied into a queue—
     Is that proper for someone so near-dead?”

“When I was young,” Ziggy said, (after kicking the lout)
     “I visited the barber’s quite often.
But now that my keratin’s rapidly running out—
     Why, I’ll take all that’s left to my coffin.”

“You are old,” said the brat, forgetting respect,
     “Your hormones are a memory, god bless ’em.
But yet at the altar of love you genuflect—
     Why do you persist in writing love poems?”

“In my youth,” said the sage, grinning into his beard,
     “The point of the verse wasn’t futile.
What’s the point now? Why, haven’t you heard
     Of that diamond-shaped blue pill, Sildenafil?”

Said the stripling, “Your playlist is years out of date
     You diss the pop music of this nation.
You tell us how your music was so bloody great—
     But aren’t you the—heh—disco generation?”

Quoth the fossil, “I was easily influenced as a child,
     I will admit I knew all the lyrics—
But surely you’ll grant this: disco never defiled
     The ear as much as Bollywood remix!”

“You are old,” said the youth, “yet you still write a blog —
     Why waste what’s left of your life?
Your fingers are arthritic, your mind is a fog—
     Wouldn’t you rather spend time with the wife?”

“I have answered three questions, now kindly fuck off,”
     Said the ancient, looking hunted and harried,
“With blogposts to write, trolls to be shook off,
     Who the hell had the time to get married?”

The original poem is well-known enough to not need a reference, but just in case.. This is based on Lewis Carroll's delicious You are old, Father William, which, in turn, was a parody of Robert Southey's rather sanctimonious The Old Man's Comforts and how he gained them.