Little did I know what a stir this might cause. Barely a week goes by when I don’t get a tweet or a direct message relating to it. Sometimes they are light hearted messages from fellow tweeps who share my aversion to work but, more often than not, they are from outraged, affronted writers who have taken umbrage at my words. This week, after a flurry of disgruntled comments, I contemplated changing my statement to something more innocuous. Maybe –“Would be writer with barely enough time to engage in twitter such is the taxing nature of said writing.” Never mind the fact that I spend half my life on twitter and I don’t find writing taxing at all.
There I’ve said it. I completely stand by my original assertion that writing cannot begin to compare with working for a living. This is probably a good time to point out, however, that I’m not exactly Charles Dickens. My writing is not what you would call literary and I’m not looking to change the world. Its purpose is to entertain and is probably best enjoyed with a packet of chocolate digestives and a G and T, or nor as the case may be. Maybe some of the people I have offended are future Tolstoys or
Dostoevskys, in which case I can only humbly apologise but my own experience of writing is nothing other than a source of joy.
Let’s think about it, most people who work for a living have to get up early. On the days that I work, I’m up at 6am and out of the house by 7. On a good day, I’m home by 6pm. Compare this then to a schedule where you can be as flexible as you like. A night owl? No problem, you can stay in bed until lunch and write into the wee hours. An early bird? Doesn’t matter, you set your own hours and work to your own agenda.
Someone this week stated that writing is infinitely hardly than digging ditches because it taxes the brain. Well, try telling that to someone who does back breaking work 8 hours a day in the freezing cold and driving rain. I remember my dad, who was a manual labourer, coming home from work exhausted and in agony. In his 40s, he was told by his doctor that he had the skeleton of a person in their 70s due to all the physical wear and tear of his job. He was typical of a generation of men, who worked themselves mostly into early graves, so that their children would have the luxury of taxing their brains and not their bodies. So no, you won’t find me complaining about being afforded the opportunity to indulge my imagination.
Because let’s face it, that’s what writing is, a process whereby we explore our thoughts before putting them down on paper for other people to read. I can’t speak for other people but I love thinking about what I am going to write and planning my ideas. Sometimes, when I can’t sleep, I’ll lay awake developing plots or characters and literally can’t wait to get out of bed to start putting those ideas onto paper. I can’t say that I have ever felt even remotely inclined to leap out of bed in order to get to a real job.
I’m lucky, my job is well paid enough that I don’t have to work all the time but what of people who work just as hard for minimum wage. People who might have to take on two jobs just to make ends meet. What time do they have to explore their creativity and express their thoughts? I know how lucky I am and am thankful every single day that I am able to pursue something that I love. That’s why you’ll never catch me weeping into my latte about the toils of my labour and what hard work writing can be.
My writing is all done whilst lazing the day away in cafes or bars. I have no study in which to imprison myself, working eight hour days as if at a real job. What would be the point in that? On my writing days, I probably do about six hours, working on whatever novel is in progress or my blog but this time is interspersed with people watching, reading or eating cake. If I had the audacity to describe any of this as real work, I’m afraid there would be a long line of people queuing up to punch me in the face.
I suppose at the heart of it all, I believe that we are all creative beings who, given the luxury of time and opportunity would derive enormous pleasure and fulfilment from any work we might produce. I sometimes run a community writing programme and am constantly humbled by the level of talent that people possess. Talent that will never be realised because the couple of hours at the weekly creative writing class is the only time that these people can spare. Their lives are defined instead by jobs which, for the most part, they hate.
To me, writing is not some elitist endeavour that belongs to the few. It’s not about sweating blood over every word and feeling drained and exhausted. Writing for me is about pleasure, joy and fulfilment. A source of light and relief in a world that can so often seem dark and oppressive.