I’ve always sucked at introductions. When I wrote reports or essays for university I always wrote the introduction last because then I knew what I had to cover. Naturally, you can’t do that in a blog, and I’m painfully reminded of a reflective essay that I once had to write explaining why I was pursuing my Creative and Professional Writing course. They wanted 800 words and all I could bring to mind was Scout Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird stating ‘…I never loved to read. One does not love breathing’.
One also doesn’t enjoy analysing their breathing. I’ve categorised this blog as a book review, but they will be few and far between. Nothing ever came as close to destroying my love of reading as having to reread segments of novels classifying the author’s linguistic techniques and determining their meanings. I have an entire shelf of Dickens that I can’t bring myself to read because his style gives me flashbacks to a particularly painful discussion of Miss Havisham in Great Expectations. Apparently Mr Dickens uses the setting to describe his characters. Now every time I pick up one of his blasted books I start picking it to threads, attempting to track the technique instead of enjoying the narrative. There’s nothing wrong with attempting to understand and emulate techniques, but there is something painful in having to do so incessantly. It warps the brain and makes reading and writing a chore, not the pleasure it should be. The habit even turned me off my own writing. I would sit for hours staring at the laptop screen trying to find and develop ‘my’ technique. I’ve spent the last five years in a state of near-permanent writer’s block, only handing in assessment pieces that had to deliberately mimic famous authors’ styles to prove that I understand them. Every time I opened a word document I immediately compared my lack of direction to what I had come to interpret as previous authors’ steely resolve to use their winning stylistics. I couldn’t even bring myself to write this blog because I hadn’t truly decided what my ‘theme’ would be (studying marketing is probably partly to blame for that).
Then last week when I was hit with the most glorious piece of advice that I have ever received: Write for yourself. Don’t aspire to change lives and win prizes. Write for the sheer enjoyment of writing and blow everyone else. I like to believe that’s what authors like Dickens and Harper Lee did. They didn’t set out to change the world, they just wrote about how they understood it. That’s what I plan to do here, in my directionless way. There’ll be reviews of books so beautiful or so atrocious that I simply have to share. There’ll be articles on cruelty free skin care and trying damn hard to live as sustainably as possible in a world founded on fossil fuels, on a retail slave’s wage. There might even be the odd fiction piece. There’ll be me, writing for me, just like every other author before.