(Post 1 – for Kirklees ReadKirklees)
“You know what?” a friend said to me the other day. “I don’t think you’ll ever need therapy, will you?” She cast a glance at me in a manner that I took to be as ‘rather admiring.’
“Ah,” I said. “That’s nice to hear. So, do you mean that I’m rather a ‘together’ sort of person? That I’m cool and calm and in control of life – and all of that?”
“Oh no,” she goes, “You’re a bit … well. Nuts aren’t you? You’re off the wall, you are. Bats. I just meant that what with your writing. You won’t need therapy or time to chill, or whatever.”
After pausing and taking the compliment for what it was clearly meant to be (as opposed to it being a big, fat, obnoxious insult) I had to agree with her – on both counts. In fact, someone else said something similar to me, only last week. “Bet you don’t need to do meditation, do you? Because of your writing.”
And both conversations made me realise – for the first time ever, really – that yes; this is what the process of writing does for me. An emotional and perhaps an even spiritual outlet, if you like. And alongside the writing side of things, I have finally surrendered to the reading bit of the sanity-checker in my life …. the scrimping and the searching for those few, precious moments each day, in order to try and absorb a chapter or two of a good book.
Now of course, the problem with finding any little trick in life that makes you feel better about yourself; that gives you a shot in the arm; that makes you an all-round nicer and happier lassie to be around – is this; you can become more than a little bit addicted to it. Because after all, addictions can taken on rather unusual and untoward formats. (At this point in the blog – I am desperate to mention my crisp-bag fondling friend – but the lady sometimes reads this stuff… and therefore may object to being outed as someone who wanders around supermarkets, drooling over the sound that scrunchy-bags make as she caresses them.) But seriously, there is a deep, dark part of me that wishes that I had never decided to write books, blogs and overly elaborate notes to the milkman.
Because it can take over your life. And you realise this, when you overhear your own small children hissing at each other stuff along the lines of; “She’s being such a grumpy old bag! Hey – I know! Let’s ask her if she wants a bit of time to go and write, upstairs. Then when she’s less crabby, maybe she’ll let us eat the rest of the Wall’s Viennetta, after all!” *
Yes, it seems that now even those minor-lings in my household have now figured out how I tick. No point in denying it any more. Reading and writing are an all-consuming passion for me.
So, I was really rather excited when I was asked to be ‘Writer in Residence’ for ReadKirklees. Anyone who has ever met me in person; anyone who has read more than few of the blog posts up here, will already be aware that I like to spend lots of time skulking around libraries and frothing at the mouth when it comes to urging others to keep them alive – these holy sanctuaries of books and of learning.
Over the next few weeks, I hope to be sharing with you a little bit more about what urged me to take my own writing more seriously; about my own personal journey – away from the days of feeling that I had to stuff any thoughts of ‘being a writer’ under the hearthrug (yes, I did grow up with one – I’m that old) and of the type, the genre of writing that I veer towards today.
But also – I don’t want to bore anyone witless with copious amounts of blethering on about Me Me Me – I Write, Me I Do! So I’ll be taking the opportunity to tell you a little bit more about local writers and locally produced books and ideas that I’ve stumbled across over the last year or so. And I’m hoping that some of these blogs might nudge you – towards scanning such books, seizing such initiatives and perhaps even scribbling the odd line or two yourselves…
And if, on the off-chance that like me, you do end up using writing or reading as a long-term cathartic or therapeutic tool – then at least please bob a few quid into the bank account of a local mental health charity such as HOOT/ AiM and the Packhorse Gallery. Because believe me, this writing malarky might well mean that you would have saved a fortune on paying to see a shrink…