Sometimes you’re not ready. I stopped writing fiction a few months after I graduated from high school. I joked it was a sabbatical, but the truth was I didn’t have anything left to say. Only after five years do I feel ready to create again. Writing is a responsibility and it has its consequences; if the time is out of joint, anything you say will be used against you. I used to write about telepathic trees and spirit animals, not knowing enough about workdays and false loves to trust myself with anything less surreal. My soft toys were always boys because my only experience of girls back then was games of tag and cooties in the playground, and to have given Snooty or September a female voice would’ve been impossible even within the largesse of my imaginative licence. It’s far easier to write what you know that what you don’t.
Some things are not meant to be written. Lives are like kittens: open the box and their state of being irrevocably changes. I’m not particularly eloquent by nature nor nurture. But all too often when I’ve applied myself to paper, the results have thrown up things which might have been better left hidden. We’re not speaking and I feel like I should go first but how? I still don’t know where the words come from, but they all too often tell a truth which breaks down more fragile things: friendships, jokes, bonds of trust. It’s far easier to write what you don’t know than what you do.
One of the epigrams in the book my reader bought me informs that “writers don’t take holidays,” or words to that effect. I feel this to be slightly disingenuous not just because of the implication that I am a writer, but that repose is not an intrinsic part of our condition. Only in not writing – whether out of ennui, febrility, or misplacement of the heart – can we give birth to the people (and animals, and trees) which inhabit our stories, and place in them the same purpose and doubt which wrestle within ourselves. We have a responsibility to our creations: to treat them with honour, and imbue them with a fighting chance. Fomenting all these things in a single brain is no slothful task. It’s far easier to write than not to.