Do I Have The Passion For Writing?

There are times when we all ask this. There are times, like Marlon James said in his Booker Prize speech, that we think about giving up. The mountainside is too steep, the track too worn and our shoes too threadbare to carry on. Then there are writers who say, ‘I can do nothing else. I am not qualified to do anything else’. This is a bit of a misnomer. They are walking up the mountainside clutching their CV and prizes and if they slide back to base camp they can always get a job in a supermarket. This alone, is an insult to people who work in supermarkets. Is as if to say, any other job is second best to writing, but let’s face facts if you are a writer then there is no other job. Anyone who has a passion for their job feels this. If you don’t, then in the wise words of Ray Bradbury, ‘Get the hell out’. I have known writers, good men, good women, bloody good writer, slide to the bottom of the bottom of the valley over sand stone grit and had their faces lashed to the thorns of briars, and still, ground down, alone, they have reached for the pen, the pencil, the chalk, the stone to leave their mark and the voices of others. It is not a compunction of what we will write but an endless sounding bell in our heads to write, it is worse than an itch, it is worse than a venereal disease, it won’t die, it won’t be appeased by a scratch or penicillin. I have a problem with some writers, especially those new to the craft, who when asked, ‘What do you want to write?’ cannot answer it. No other profession, other than the arts, garners such mystery, aloofness and stupidity. Writers who say they cannot answer it are also bound to say, ‘I do not read, I do not want to be unduly influenced’. Assholes, is what I say. Assholes to the end. The last thing any writer thinks when they sit down to write is, ‘I will not be influenced!’ The reason we write, the reason we can’t stop come hell and fire, is that there is a passion in us to say what we can, while we can, for as long as we can about the world that has influenced us and the words that has influenced us and the text unbound that will continue to influence long after our names have faded. What do I want to write? I want to write about life, rather than surviving, rather than making excuses for being failed humans. Writers can be much more than that. We all can. We can all find our passion. We can all fight to be more than the sum of our whole parts.

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