by Ashley Lister
Dr Samuel Johnson said, ‘No man but a blockhead ever wrote for anything but money.’ Whilst Dr Johnson was an eminent authority on Shakespeare, a lexicographer par excellence, and a wry wit, he showed on this occasion that he had a penchant for talking out of his arse.
I write. I try and sell the things I write. Sometimes I get money. A lot of the time I get rejections, heartache and digestion problems. But I don’t just write for the money. I write because, if I didn’t write, my life would be empty.
Does that sound melodramatic? Yes. I know it does. Does that sound like I’m diminishing the fulfilment I get from family, friends and pets? Yes. I probably am.
But every social interaction I’ve had since I was twelve has been accompanied by the thought: how would this read in a novel? Every conversation, kiss and interaction has been made memorable by the thought: I could write about this. And every memory I’ve committed to paper, through fiction or essay or poetry, has been relived and re-experienced in exquisite detail.
Do I write because it makes me popular? No. Writers aren’t rock stars. Most people shit bricks when you tell them you’re a published author, probably because they’re scared that you’re going to try and sell them a copy of your latest book. Either that or the boring bastards want to tell you about the book they’d like to write. Trust me: writing doesn’t make a person popular.
Do I write because I have a burning desire to tell a story? Don’t get me started on this one. Writing classes tell us to show, not tell. And then we’re expected to tell a story. Someone is clearly fucking with my head here. Are we story-show-ers or story-tellers?
Do I write because the characters in my head want their stories putting on the page? I don’t think so. I believe this is called multiple-personality disorder and is a symptom of being insane. I’m not insane and I have a certificate to prove it.
I write for one simple reason: the alternative is unthinkable.