Today is National Writing Day to encourage anyone with a story, anyone with something to say to get it written down. Have a look at the website for local events and ideas to get you started. Take the seven minute challenge, write away and see what happens.
You might think writing isn’t for you. Why do I write? Why does anyone do anything? Why do you play, sing, create, do anything? I do it because I feel I should. I feel bad if I don’t. Then comes the crisis of confidence. Why would anyone want to read what I have to say? Nothing I write has any value. People won’t read it, but then again what if they do and they don’t like it or don’t agree? I try to tell myself that everyone else must suffer the same.
I loved writing as a child. I loved words and putting them together. As a teenager I read articles in newspapers that made me stop and think, that perfectly expressed what I believed, what was in my head but not yet fully formed. I wanted to be able to do that.
When I first started writing a blog in Rome, I didn’t want to write la bella vita about how wonderful it was to live in Italy (it was and I love those blogs, but people do them far better than me). I also wanted to avoid the moaning and complaining that comes with living in Rome. As a foreigner you neither want the rose-tinted glasses seeing only a perfect expat existence, or to be continually complaining about the reality of low wages, London-expensive rents, public transport that regularly sets on fire and the rats. I wanted to explore the similarities between my birthplace and my new home, hence You Can Take the Girl Out of Bradford. I wanted to find the connections and make the links. Now that I’m back living in Bradford that remains my aim. I don’t always succeed.
At the moment, I’m in a bit of a writing lull. Before I start writing again I need to read more George Orwell. The more I read of his writing the more I appreciate his ability to cut through the confusion. To say what needs to be said.
We need more writers like us. I know some wonderful writers. I am jealous of their ability, productivity, for being brave enough to try and to keep going. Justine, who writes novels, short stories, enters competitions and is shortlisted. John who plays trumpet, paints and writes poetry in his native Brummie dialect. Rhiannon who writes novels, publishes topical grown-up children’s fiction and writes courageously about subjects closer to home.
And my Dad, who didn’t read a book until he was 21, but who wrote in his retirement and had a style all of his own. He self-published a travel journal of his trip around the world and had a website of his Walks and Thoughts. I read his journal years ago when he first published it. I remember it containing things about his relationship with my mother that I’d rather not have known, but he said you can’t write worrying about what other people will think. You have to write for you. Since he died, I haven’t been able to read anything that he wrote. But I know I will feel better once I do.
After a horrid 2017, I am trying to write again, struggling to find the words. I need to regain my enthusiasm, my rhythm. I want to rage against Trump, Salvini, the hostile environment, austerity, me too, Europe, fake news, about our general confusion with the state of the world. But at the moment that all seems too difficult. So I take comfort in the little things. I’ll put aside the difficult topics and have another coffee, enjoy the football and write about them because it’s easier. Maybe I lived in Italy for too long.