'What do you do?'
'I'm a writer...'
Nope – I can’t bring myself to say it. Despite writing for years on subjects as varied, and generally dull, as pensions, banking systems and charity fundraisers, I can’t call myself a writer. Maybe it’s because it still feels like an aspiration, or that I need to fulfil a stereotype in my own head to gain the title - the novelist deeply engrossed in their latest work, beavering away in their shabby-chic lakehouse, or the tortured artist, wrestling with their latest piece in a dimly-lit bar with a cigarette burning away endlessly in the corner of their mouth (pre smoking ban of course).
The nub of the issue is that I’ve never written about what I wanted, just what was required by the job, and corporate-land is not know for it’s blazing creativity. So I bit the bullet and started a writing course, thinking that would give me a kick up the bum, get me writing 'my stuff' and earn me the right to call myself a writer (and maybe a few pennies here and there). What I discovered, though, is that very few writers get to blather on about whatever they’d like – and a lot of their time isn’t even spent writing. Research is king. Viable ideas don’t come from thin air (or chin-stroking musings, pondered while staring into the middle distance), they generally come from analysis and similarly ‘uncreative’ activities.
That put a stop to my gallop. But it also made me realise that (sadly?) I could be closer to calling myself a writer than I thought. Research and analysis – I’ve done that for years, I just need to point my skills in the right direction. So I’ve thrown myself into it, making lists to my hearts content (my, oh my, how I love lists...), and found that there is inventiveness to be found in the mundane. Amongst the 'constraints' of length, style and suitable subject – what’s the best angle? Where’s the fresh perspective? How will this entertain people? Not so much a creative flow as a tentative trickle, but it’s getting there.
But what of my typecast writer image? Will I ever be able to unleash the random thoughts that dance around in my brain at stupid o’clock?
Of course I will – isn’t that what blogs are for…?