Monday, 22 April 2013

Writing: a portable profession

I'm glad I didn't become a cello player or a pianist. You can't do what you do best, and enjoy doing the most, whenever the fancy takes you. Nor, indeed, can you earn a living without your instrument, or your tools - have you seen musicians wrestling with almost life-sized cello cases as they get on and off a train on their way to work? Writing is a very portable profession. One of the joys used to be that all you needed was a pen and a spiral-bound notebook. Now, of course, it's an electronic device of some kind, which can still be popped into the pocket or handbag when not required. Writers can ply their trade anywhere in the world, language permitting, and commit random thoughts or profound revelations onto the page 24/7. Many a blockbuster novel is doubtless being created by pad-users or pen-pushers in snatched moments between hectic schedules and that brief escape from the real world is an invaluable therapy to stressed wanabees. Even if their creative efforts never see the light of day, writing provides pleasure and satisfaction and at no cost to the user! Finding the right word to express a sentiment, capture the flavour of a location, describe a character in the way you visualise them, is a challenge the real writer relishes. I've made the transition from feature to book writing which requires considerably more discipline to stay the course. It's far easier to complete 3,000 words by a deadline than the onerous 30,000-plus demanded for a book. My husband marvels at my ability to sit for hours at my screen, juggling acres of note-filled sheets of paper, piles of reference books strewn across desk and floor, and typing furiously without knocking my coffee over. I'll admit I'd have difficulty completing a novel, largely because I'd have no deadline to spur me on, no objective in view. That's not to say I'm not among the secret scribblers nurturing a novel which is unlikely to be published. Never mind. I'm enjoying its gestation, which is an ideal antidote to the biography I'm currently working on. The A-Z of Punishment and Torture is still out there,too, if you haven't already seen it. Hmm. Something about that title reminds me of the bad days when I have to miss our small ration of sunshine to stay indoors and work!