Why I Write: Doug Johnstone

I write because I’m fucking angry. At least, that was a big part of it when I started to write, and it probably still is. I was angry about all sorts of things, but I was specifically angry about never seeing the world I saw all around me depicted in the fiction I was reading.

I grew up in Arbroath, a small town on the northeast coast of Scotland, famous for smoked fish and an Abbey. At school I had a piss-poor English teacher who barely gave us anything to read that had been written after 1900. The Scottish literature I read out of school all seemed to be about Glasgow. To me growing up, the big city was Dundee, and Glasgow might as well have been on fucking Mars.

Great writers, I now realise, like Alasdair Gray and James Kelman, but they didn’t speak to me about my life, my generation, my friends and enemies.

So I wrote about my life. Of course it was all shit at the start, but I kept writing and kept reading and kept writing and gradually it got marginally less shite. And I started to read other books that spoke to me more directly. Iain Banks, Irvine Welsh, Alan Warner – people who understood my part of the world, the Scottish small town mentality, the drugs, the desolation, all of it.

I kind of hated those fuckers for writing my experience so well, and that just made me more angry. Well, kind of. But it also showed me that maybe, just maybe, I wasn’t pissing my own words up against a wall, that there might be some worth in what I was doing. So I kept writing. Still shit, but getting less shit every day.

Years later when I was working as a journalist, I interviewed Iain Banks. His big literary hero was Alasdair Gray, and he said something to the effect that it wasn’t enough to love your literary heroes, you had to hate them as well. You had to write what you wrote to prove you were better than those old bastards, to show that you had something new and important to say. I knew what he meant.

Of course, I don’t hate all those old bastards, I just thought I did for a while. And maybe I’m not quite as angry as I used to be back then. But when I sit down to write now, I still want to describe the world I see around me in the most honest way possible, and that’s why I write.

Doug Johnstone611hUmOfROL._UX250_

Doug Johnstone is a writer, musician and journalist based in Edinburgh. His sixth novel, The Dead Beat, was published by Faber and Faber in May 2014. Gone Again (2013) was an Amazon bestseller and Hit & Run (2012) and was an Amazon #1 as well as being selected as a prestigious Fiction Uncovered winner. Smokeheads (2011) was nominated for the Crimefest Last Laugh Award. His work has received praise from the likes of Irvine Welsh, Ian Rankin, William McIlvanney, Megan Abbott and Christopher Brookmyre.

He is also a singer, musician and songwriter in several bands, has a degree in physics, a PhD in nuclear physics and a diploma in journalism, and worked for four years designing radars. He grew up in Arbroath and lives in Portobello, Edinburgh with his wife and two children.

Doug’s seventh novel, The Jump, is published this week by Faber. Buy it here (it’s very very good).

Find out more here, or say hi to him on Twitter.

Why I Write: Sara Marshall-Ball

Put simply, I write because I can’t imagine not writing. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t write — even when I was too young for actual written words I spent all my time in my own head, making up stories about why my index finger hated my little finger, or which universe the secret door under the desk led to. The stories in my head always felt incredibly real to me, so it probably wasn’t a huge surprise that I started writing them down as soon as I was able.

Hush_final_front-665x1024As a child I wrote almost as voraciously as I read. My evenings and weekends were often dominated by writing (and also ballet, but that passion faded somewhat as I got older); I well remember my mother’s frustration when she found me again and again, hiding under the covers in the middle of the night, writing by torchlight. I don’t think I ever managed to clearly explain that I was not simply being disobedient, but that the compulsion to write was so overpowering — and the fear of losing the words if I did not write them down immediately so pronounced — that I felt like I had no choice in the matter.

That compulsion has never really gone away. There has never been a time in my life when I didn’t write on a regular basis (though I have had the odd six-month sabbatical). The way in which I write has changed a bit over time – what used to be just a straightforward need to write down a character or a situation has developed into a desire to construct interesting narratives, or to craft beautiful or unusual sentences – but the basic desire to discover other perspectives, to explore different viewpoints, to give voice to people who might not otherwise speak is still the driving force.

It’s often said that writing is a form of escapism, and in some ways I don’t doubt that’s true — except that the only thing I’ve ever tried to escape is boredom. I write to escape to places, rather than escape from them; to experience feelings and situations that I might not otherwise encounter, or explore ideas which might not directly affect my daily life. Writing is the way I process what’s going on around me. Sometimes it’s exhilarating, sometimes it’s irritating, but either way it’s necessary: I write because I am not capable of not writing.

Sara Marshall-BallAuthor_Sara_Marshall_Ball_1-768x1024

Sara Marshall-Ball spent her formative years in Cambridge. She studied English and Creative Writing at the University of Derby before moving to Brighton in 2007. She worked as a proofreader of gravestones to support herself through her MA in Creative and Critical Writing at the University of Sussex, during which she wrote much of her debut novel Hush, which is out now from Myriad. Say hi to her on Twitter.

 

Why I Write: Claire Fuller

I write to be read. Although of course it’s scary sending work out: people who don’t know me will be thinking about and making judgements on my writing  – good and bad. But that’s why I do it.

Our Endless Numbered Days smallI know lots of writers who have trouble sharing their work, even amongst the safe environment of the writing group I’m in, let alone sending their manuscripts out to agents. Of course when Our Endless Numbered Days gets a poor review (and all books do), it hurts and for five minutes I wonder why I’m putting myself through this. And then I come across someone who has loved my novel, wants to talk about the twists, what they have spotted, and the ending. And I realise it has touched them in some small way and that makes it worthwhile.

I think my relatively thick skin comes from my first degree in sculpture. At least twice a week for three years, us sculpture students participated in ‘crits’. All ten of us and our lecturer or head of department stood around a student’s piece and said what we thought was working and what could be improved. There were always many things in everyone’s work which could be made better, but most of the time (as long as the criticism was considered and a justification was made) I liked hearing what my fellow students had to say. Best of all was when I had a piece in an exhibition and I got to hear what the public thought.

Just like putting my sculpture on display, knowing my book will be read by strangers; that the words from my head will go into someone else’s and change in the process, is why I write.

Claire FullerClaireFuller small

Claire Fuller’s debut novel, Our Endless Numbered Days, is published by Fig Tree in the UK and last week won the Desmond Elliott prize (huge congratulations, Claire!). She has also written many short stories and pieces of flash fiction; several of which have been published and won competitions including the BBC’s Opening Lines. She has an MA in Creative and Critical Writing and lives in Winchester, England with her husband and children.

Find out more or say hi to her on Twitter.

Why I Write: Irenosen Okojie

There’s ink swimming around in my blood undetected. I’m sure of it. When my head is on fire, I search for my notepad and pen. If my flat were engulfed in flames, they’re the first items I’d grab, followed by my passport, then my purse. Writing is a form of escape; something magical occurs when all the elements of character, plot and pace come together. The reason I write shifts depending on where I am or what I’m going through. Sometimes, I write because there’s so much wonder and bleakness around and writing is a great space to unpick that. I write if I’m joyous, sad, frustrated, angry; I write because I have a lot to say yet, occasionally, I’m forced to walk around silently. I reach for it as a life raft, a weapon, a comfort. There is power in the pen. I write to make sense of the world I inhabit, peeling back layers of this weird, malleable beast called life. I love finding the strangeness in the everyday, playing with language until it seems like a form of contortionism and I can mould my characters’ lives into unexpected shapes that feel knowable, vivid, sly. That’s part of the fun. The aspect of surprise, not quite knowing how things will form but being certain that if I keep writing they will, they’ll assemble in their rightful place.

Writing is a constant in my life. When I moved to England as a child, I poured my heart out in diaries, detailing accounts of my new surroundings, trying to write the cold out of my bones. On renting my first flat, I struggled with insomnia some nights so I sat up scribbling, my only company a candle flame in a purple Chinese lantern, flickering in the dark. A couple of years later, while my mother was receiving treatment at the hospital after losing sight in her right eye, I wrote a poem in the waiting room I’ve never actually read to her. Through writing, I’ve had some wonderful people come into my life, leaving their mark when we had to go our separate ways. Writing also brings anxiety, insecurity, rejection and loss. It forces you to steel yourself, to learn how to cope.

Butterfly-fishI find myself writing internally when I’m interacting with people. On a trip to Portugal my money got stolen. All I could think about while the police officer interviewed me was how I’d describe the dent in his head. One morning in the hotel, when the cleaner wandered into my room too early, I felt like I knew her face, maybe from a past life. I grappled with the feeling of familiarity from a complete stranger. And days later, when I caught trains to Tavira, the way the landscape changed, got redder, dustier, wider. Feeling that some seed had been planted during that journey which would bloom between my organs, growing from the little successes and disappointments yet to come, dragging an old suitcase to meet a boyfriend who said he had a surfboard made of wood and white water waiting for me.

Writing is like being an actor in a way. I get to create and explore different characters. I wander the city drawing scenes; give them breath and blood. When there’s static coming my way, my hand hovers over the mouths of my characters.

God is probably a woman I think. Her choice of drug is writing. She probably has to support her habit juggling unfulfilling jobs she has to tolerate whilst doling out the odd extraordinary occurrence now and again. Like me, when she’s feeling good about it, she loves to entertain and challenge an audience. This is why I write; I am a reader too and because every now and again, I experience the joy of producing small miracles on the page.

Irenosen Okojie

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Irenosen Okojie was born in Nigeria and moved to England aged eight. A freelance Arts Project Manager, she has previously worked at Apples & Snakes as the National Development Coordinator and for The Caine Prize as a Publicity Officer for their 10th Anniversary Tour. Her short stories have been published in the US, Africa and the UK. Her first novel, Butterfly Fish, is published by Jacaranda Books.

For more information, visit www.irenosenokojie.com, or say hi to her on Twitter.

 

Why I Write: Frances Mensah Williams

Why do I write?

Because if I don’t put all the drama onto the paper, I’ll be forced to live it instead and, really, who deserves to live with someone at that level of intensity?

Why must I write?

Because if I don’t get the story down on my screen and out of my head, it will keep badgering me day and night. Errant bits of dialogue will continually crowd my brain and distract me from anything else I have the audacity to try to do.

Why should I write?

Because it’s the only natural and normal thing for me to do. It’s the literary equivalent of playing with dolls; you get to create characters and then tell them what you want them to do. Like playing make-believe, writing gives you the illusion of being in control. When you plan the storyline and decide on the chapters, you can allow yourself to believe that you are the creator and the one in charge. Well – that is until you start to fill in the blanks and tell the story, and then very quickly realise that you control nothing!

Your characters, once formed, need nothing more from you than for you to record their thoughts, actions and emotions. They frown when you don’t get the words right and when you read back over what you’ve written and realise you didn’t say it quite the way they meant, you hastily rewrite to get back into their good graces. Now, if you think that what I just wrote sounds crazy, then you will begin to understand why I write. Because when you’ve created a whole new personality and given it a voice, you are accountable for getting that voice right. We all know how annoying it is to be misquoted!

When I desperately want to share a story with the world, I go over and over the words on the page, convinced that there’s a better way to say what I’ve just said. And with every rewrite comes the battle to stop myself tossing what I’ve written in the bin, convinced that it should never be allowed to see the light of day and confirm what I suspect; that I simply can’t write. But still I write, because the next day, just as I wake up ready to declare that I cannot, the words graciously start to flow. And another crisis is averted – for now.

Why I write?

51xmsbsR0lL__SY344_BO1,204,203,200_To tell stories, especially the stories that validate my own existence and the experiences of bi-cultural people like me, challenged to navigate the sometimes contradictory traditions that surround us. To make people think differently about what they thought they knew. To create a world that I want to inhabit, and where the good far outweighs the bad. To invite others to see into this world and, for a short while at least, to share it with me. To make people laugh – and yes, maybe, cry a little. To demystify the unknown, the ‘other’. I write because sometimes I worry that there are not enough writers telling the stories of people like me. I write to show that fundamentally, despite the diversity of our appearance, just below the shade of skin that we each carry on the outside, we are all the same; we all love, we all cry, we all want to seen, and heard, and accepted.

I write because….well, because it’s when I feel at my most free. I write because it’s when I can just be me.

Frances Mensah Williams

Frances was born in Ghana and, in 2011, voted one of the Top 20 Inspirational Females from the African Diaspora in Europe. She is the author of several non-fiction titles, and now her debut novel, From Pasta To Pigfoot: ‘a powerful story of identity and self-love and empowerment’. Find out more.

Why I Write: Cal Moriarty

CalMoriarty_BobbiLomaxStory-telling  is a compulsion akin to addiction. But it’s one of those rare addictions that actually does you good. Conversely, it also does others all different kinds of good, which is why they still read books. Whether readers enjoy being creeped out by Stephen King, thrilled by Le Carre or turned on by E L James, they’ll keep buying books in which they can delve into and experience the lives of others. As a story-teller this is what turns me on. I love the fact that readers will hopefully escape the stresses of their lives and give themselves over to the stories I tell, the characters I create; that they will invest their time and emotional space in my ‘quirky’ creations. It thrills me that they will have a reaction to those characters, for good or ill. What other reason would a writer write for?

All that navel-gazing, ‘I write for myself’ stuff is the opposite of what I do. I write for the reader and strive on each page to give them something interesting, intriguing or something that invigorates the senses or the mind – and if I have fun in the process, then all the better! The initial reward for me, knee-deep in research documents and post-it notes scrawled with plot, is as Katherine Mansfield so exquisitely put it, to ‘try all sorts of lives – one is so very small, but that is the satisfaction of writing, one can impersonate so many people.’ It’s so true – for whatever time, no matter how fleeting, I have lived the lives I write. I’m fully invested in the characters. Both they and their lives are completely real to me. I’m just parachuting into them and jetting out again, hopefully without characters or readers spotting my presence.  In doing so, and without leaving my desk, I have been a key part of the Bloomsbury set, a harassed desert-based cop, a documents forger, a sexy Jewish housewife, and am currently in the process of becoming a charismatic, charming politician who also happens to have a tidy side-line in serial killing.

I’m not trying to escape my own life by writing all these characters, but because writing them is a huge amount of addictive fun. It’s completely thrilling to make up stories and characters and enliven them with dialogue and purpose, knowing that hopefully I put some magic down on the page that a reader might react to in whatever way it gets them. But the biggest thrill of all is when readers say they enjoyed it. Because although novel writing can sometimes feel like a legalised form of slow, painful torture, I wonder: is there actually a better addiction on the planet?

Cal Moriarty

Cal Moriarty is the creator and author of the Wonderland series. The Killing of Bobbi Lomax, the first novel in the series, was published by Faber earlier this month.

Cal is also a graduate of our Writing A Novel course, and Edit Your Novel, which will return later this year.

Why I Write: Ali Land

Recently I’ve been in a period of reflection. Having recently completed my first novel, a process which lit every synapse and nerve in my body, I began to wonder why I had waited so long to write. What I’ve discovered is that the journey began years ago.

The written word has always played a significant role in my life. Growing up in a military family, letter-writing to parents who were often in challenging situations on the other side of the world was the norm. Sunday mornings at boarding school were spent scribbling news (heavily censored of course) onto notelets, posted far and wide around the world. I learnt early on the warmth and joy that sending and receiving letters can bring. A friend in an envelope, to be read and re-read. The extra special ones, safely stored under my pillow.

English was my favourite subject at school; I lived for the reading lists. My books are my most treasured possessions, so much so that I can’t count the times I’ve boxed them up and shipped them to the other side of the world, just so they’d be there waiting for me in my new city when I landed. The only prize I ever won at school was an English one, and my class teacher banned me from entering his end of term anagram competitions.

The signs were there all along, just not the courage. So when I finally felt brave enough and sat down to write my first novel, it happened very quickly, in four months in fact. The words tumbled and somersaulted onto the page. I found, to my great joy, the hours spent day-dreaming and staring out of class-room windows had been useful after all. It turns out I had been writing in my head for years.

What I have learnt so far

I write because I love. Deeply.

I write because I care. Greatly.

I write to understand, and to make sense of the world around me.

I write to feel. Going deep, deeper than I ever imagined into my main character’s skin simultaneously broke and re-made my heart. I cried often during the process of writing this novel; the journey continually evoked compassion and hope in me.

I also write to escape order and the ordinary. A crazy chaos occurs during my writing. Post-it notes litter my walls, an ever-changing game of literary chess. My flat was messier, my laundry pile bigger. And I loved every minute of it. I ran with it.

The final reason I write is: to understand myself.

Kafka once said “A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity.”

Believe me when I say, I’ve been there, close to the edge. Hanging on by fingernails close. By putting words on paper, I’ve been given a wonderful me-shaped key which is slowly unlocking the internal turmoil and conundrums which have, at various points in my life, disturbed me. The white noise, the voices, the images flashing through my mind. No, not madness, not insanity. Just a writer, not writing.

There is no monster in me anymore. He has been replaced by a giant, my very own BFG, who holds my hand and tells me, yes, this is the path for you. Writing has changed the way I see the world – it more vibrates than exists. Inspiration lurks everywhere, characters to kidnap lurk everywhere. I know there will be times ahead when walls will be hit, self-doubt will creep in. I won’t always get it right, but I know now that I will always write. Why wouldn’t I? Nothing is more beautiful than late nights spent at my desk with foggy eyes, watching something resembling a story emerge. A land. A place where the voices are heard. Are valid. And on that page, through my foggy eyes, those words are mine. Nobody can judge or criticise them.

That is until you hand them over to your agent or editor, but that’s another story for another day!

 

Ali Land

alilandAli Land completed our six month Writing A Novel course in June 2014. Her debut novel Good Me, Bad Me will be published by Penguin in August 2016, and has since sold in a further twelve territories.

Say hi to her on Twitter.

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Why I Write: Shelley Weiner

When people want to know why I write, I look at them blankly. It feels like they’re asking me ‘Why breathe?’ or ‘Why eat?’ And all I can say in reply is that it seems as necessary – and sometimes as problematic – as either of these life-sustaining activities.

the last honeymood weinerFor, while it is true that it doesn’t usually lead to asthma, acid reflux or obesity, writing has the capacity to cause extreme pain when blocked, distress when rejected and, when finally put out for the public gaze, an uncomfortable sense of exposure … or worse.

Who’d want to do it, you ask. And when it’s not going well I often ask this of myself. Then I remember or experience again one of those precious, fleeting moments when the words perfectly match an idea I want to express or a story I’m compelled to shape … That’s it. The rush, the high that keeps me hooked and will do for as long as I breathe or eat. There’s nothing like it, no endorphin or pharmaceutical or gourmet experience to touch it.

Yup – it’s an addiction I’ve labelled ‘scribomania’. I write because I must.

arnost shelley weinerAnd, like all addicts, I keep going back for more because I’ve never yet (and probably never will) done it well enough to satisfy myself – and when I’m not doing it I worry about it, until the compulsion to return to it is too great to resist. This time, I tell myself, I’ll produce a substantial literary work or a story that touches a universal chord or, at its most basic and popular, a piece of sheer entertainment …

Not only do I tell this to myself, I also repeat it with passion and conviction to all the many new writers I tutor and mentor in classes and on courses at home and abroad. ‘If you want to write, if you feel you have something to say, I’ll help you,’ I declare. ‘Bring me your new-born idea and your raw curiosity, and I’ll give you the tools to transform it into fiction; I’ll share with you all the tips and techniques I’ve gained along my own tenuous path.’ Does this make me a literary pusher? Am I fostering new lifetimes of addiction or (looking at it more positively) enabling artistic expression, the possibility of someone creating a great novel?

the audacious mendacity of lily greenImpossible to know. Writing defines and inhabits me, and I’m not quite sure why I believe so strongly that, in spite of the risk of dependency and disappointment and frustration, it is important for new writers – and a generation of new readers – to be given the tools and permission I offer. So I do it and I teach it – and now it sometimes it feels as though my head is crammed with other people’s stories, entangled like narrative spaghetti, and my own hesitant creations are throttled at birth.

Then – hallelujah – out of that morass pops out a shiny new idea: it’s strong, it is tantalising, it’s a survivor.

And the compulsion kicks in again. I eat. I breathe. And I write.

Shelley Weiner

Shelley WeinerShelley Weiner is an acclaimed novelist, short-story writer and journalist who has, over the years, established a reputation as an inspirational creative writing tutor and nurturer of new talent. Shelley’s novels include the critically-acclaimed A Sisters’ Tale, The Last Honeymoon, The Joker and Arnost. Her latest novel is The Audacious Mendacity of Lily Green.

Shelley is also the author of two guides, Writing Your First Novel and Writing Short Storiesand is a tutor on our daytime Writing a Novel course.

Join Shelley for her summer course, The Five Day Short Story, which is now open for bookings.

Why I Write: Stav Sherez

On one level, this is the easiest question for an author to answer. On another, it’s the hardest.

tbmI guess the simple answer is that I write because I can’t conceive of a life without writing. It’s the only thing I’m good at, the only thing that brings me even a sliver of satisfaction, the only thing that shoves those whirling thoughts of death to the back of my mind. I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t write – it’s inconceivable to me; I wouldn’t be good at much else.

On a deeper level, it’s about the transportative function of reading. I’ve wanted to be a writer of fiction since the age of ten and the reason is that by then I was already under the spell of books, of fiction, of stories that take you out of your life and send you on wild adventures, eventually dropping you back off where you started, a somehow different person. I read voraciously as a kid. I read everything I could get my hands on, whether it was the Famous Five or Stephen King, Alistair Maclean or Wilbur Smith. Books did something to me that nothing else could approach. They pulled me out of my boring middle-class childhood and thrust me into rich and exotic worlds filled with war or revelation or unimaginable landscapes. Writing is transportation. It is also an escape hatch and we all need an escape hatch. I remember that even during dinner I’d have a book snuck on my lap, snatching furtive sentences and paragraphs between bites. Books changed my world as a child and I wanted to to write books because of that – their power, their transformative nature, the way they allow us to view our lives from the side.

ADR2Of course, once you start writing seriously, once you start being published, the reasons modulate and shift. This is true of everything. The reasons I give myself for writing these days are different. I get obsessed with an idea, a theory or a period of history and that obsession grows and gnaws inside me until the only way to release it is to write about it. Whether it’s the question of representation and the Holocaust in my first novel, cults and Greek islands in my second, Africa and the phenomenon of child soldiers in my third or Liberation Theology and the nature of religious activism in my most recent. A novel (which takes two to three years to complete) allows you to indulge your obsession for a period of time befitting it. Delving deep into the universe of old books, articles, newspapers and rumours. There’s nothing better than that. And this brings me to the next reason, perhaps the main reason of why I still write, and that’s that writing, for me, serves as an extended mode of thinking. When I start to write about a subject I think I know what I feel about it, but the nature of writing uncovers deeper layers and allows me to probe the subject on many levels and discover new things. Writing is an exploratory activity, a journey into the deep recesses of one’s thoughts and beliefs, a way to understand the world and one’s self a little bit better.

 

11daysHow I write is a different matter. I nearly always begin with landscape, with setting – knowing where a certain book is set will delineate the parameters of what can and cannot happen within its pages. I’m very interested in the intersection of landscape and consciousness – psychogeography, if you will. Once I know where the novel is set, I read everything I can about that particular place and time. Ideas appear. Notes fill up blank pages. I normally start writing the book when I have the first scene worked out. I don’t know where the novel is going or what the characters will come up against but that’s part of the fun and thrill of exploration. Write what you don’t know you know, I often tell students. I bang out a first draft, or zero draft, very quickly, 4-5 weeks, writing a chapter every day but never looking at the screen, let alone trying to edit. The zero draft is the blank space that allows me to throw out all my ideas and stories and see where they fall.

Then comes the real work – and the real joy – of writing. Revisions. Drafts. I normally end up doing ten drafts per novel, each draft going through the entire book from start to finish. Every draft adds a new layer to the novel. The first few are often concerned with getting the plot shored up. This can take up to a year, sometimes more. It’s normally at this point that I find the gravitational centre of the novel, the core around which all the stray thoughts metaphors, characters and scenes coalesce. Each draft then adds further detail. For me, re-writing is the only time I start to feel good about the book – re-write each sentence 20 or 30 times and eventually something decent slips through. In reality, I only spend about 10% of my time writing and the other 90% re-writing which, I think, is common to most novelists.

Stav Sherez

640-null_sherez_stavStav Sherez is the author of The Devil’s Playground, The Black Monastery, A Dark Redemption and Eleven Days. From 1999 to 2004 he was a main contributor to the music magazine Comes with a Smile. From December 2006 he has been literary editor of the Catholic Herald.

Why I Write: Kim Curran

It’s probably easier for me to tell you all the reasons I don’t write. I don’t write for money. Or fame. Or to work through any psychological trauma. I don’t even write because, as many authors say, I have to; because I would die if I couldn’t put pen to paper.  I’m not even sure I write because I feel I have something important to say.

I write because I love it.  It’s so trite to say that, and I wish I had a deeper, more noble motive. I wish I wrote because I wanted to change the world or because I had a grand political purpose. But nope. For me, writing is an entirely selfish act. I write because it’s the one thing that when I’m doing it, I don’t feel like I should be doing something else.

Like all authors, I started as a reader. I would escape into worlds where heroes and villains and gods and monsters did battle. Where children were the stars and adults merely obstacles blocking their way to victory. Reading gave me a sense of power, a sense of belonging. I was never alone when with a book.

DeleteIt was a simple extension to start inventing these stories myself. I had a little red typewriter when I was eight and I used to bash out stories about monsters with two heads called Fluffy and heroes with eyebrows like mating caterpillars (I’m proud of that line to this day). I felt like a god.

Today, many, many, years later, I still do. When I write, I have complete control over the worlds I’ve built. I get to create characters then put words in their mouths and life in their limbs. I’m like a little girl playing with her toys. Only this time, I get to share those games with anyone who wants to pick up my books.

I write because as the youngest of three girls I was ignored and interrupted a lot. And when writing, no one can do either of those things. It’s like waving a giant flag that says, “I am here. I exist.”

I write because I make sense when I’m writing. The overactive imagination that got me into trouble in school, the endless useless bits of information my magpie mind has collected over the years, and the fact I would happily live in my PJs and never leave the house all make sense when I’m writing, in a way they never do when I’m out there in the real world.

And finally, I write because what other job can you do while wearing a dinosaur onesie?

Kim Curran KimCurran

Kim Curran is the award-nominated author of books for young adults, including Shift, Control and Delete. She works in advertising and is obsessed with the power of the media on young minds. She is a mentor at the Ministry of Stories and for the WoMentoring Project, and lives in London with her husband and too many books.

Order Delete here, and say hi to Kim on Twitter.