So how come I do it? Why when I could be having children, or investing in the pension plan that still seems to be accepted as a wealthy man (whyohwhy), do I spend vast swathes of my free time exploring said imaginary worlds, and staring at my laptop screen?
- Because it’s what you do. When it came to the celestial lottery that is interest+curiosity+ passion, I drew ‘writer’. Don’t worry, I’m sure to choose something else for my next life (if there were such a thing), such as Bora Bora resort owner. Or being Bear Grylls. Yep, that’s what would be frigging close as possible to ideal. But writer it is. I say writer rather than author, because it’s writing that’s kept the wolves from the door (as an author I’d invite them in to set up camp). Most authors I know earn a living from writing, and by writing I don't just mean books. As a writer I’ve done lots of exciting things like copy for roofing companies, and sales decks for computer behemoths with words like ‘sweating the assets’, and the prodigious use of acronyms. I’ve also had cool jobs like writing speeches for Bill Gates (happened once, that’s enough for me), and writing editorial about Africa for glossy magazines. As an author, I’ve written plenty schplenty, but tend to gravitate towards romance and paranormal. Even paranormal romance. But if it’s about putting words down on the page, I’m doing it.
- Because no-one has to tell you to go write, you’re already doing it. I don’t think I chose writing - I choose red stilettos and cat’s ears as my dress-up costume for my nephew’s birthday - I think writing chose me. I’ve tried choosing career options. Doesn't work so well. But the things that are inherent, those seem to work just fine. I write, because well, I’m not a tennis player, or a lawyer or one of those investment banker thingies. For whatever reason, I’ve been given an introvert mentality, a curiosity for human behaviour, and a love of words and language (currently learning isiZulu and marvelling at how the sounds and letters fit together) - all of these help with the lonely, soul-crushing task that is writing. I can’t think of anything else that I’d rather be doing. Maybe adventuring in the bundu? Ah, but then I’d be scrabbling about for my diary at the end of every evening.
- Because no-one has to tell you to go read a book. I’ve had students who quite proudly announce that throughout their entire schooling career they have not once completed a book cover-to-cover. In fact for one student said task was on his bucket list -to read one novel from beginning to end. Eh? I can gobble up a novel on a Saturday afternoon if left entirely alone and free from distraction. I even read books about the process of authors writing books and talking about books they’ve read. I’ll read the side of the cereal box, read the instruction manual and wade through reams of articles posted on Facebook. Writers read. End of.
Although I wish sometimes that I was an accountant (way more obvious career prospects), sometimes I’m glad I’m a writer. Because no-one tends to ask investment banker thingies why they became one because ‘man, that acquisition you just pulled off, was like, it touched my soul, truly.’ But they do ask writers.