Before I begin, I did a word count this morning and I am now over 38, 100 words. I feel like this:
Anyway, today I asked Simon to be a mentor one last time.
Here is a little snippets of my questions and his brilliant answers:
At the start I wanted to see if I could become a writer- so I’m wondering if you think I have become one? What do you do with your time? With your attention? Arrange words? Then yes, you’re a writer. If you want my opinion as some kind of external confirmation, then yes, you are a writer. Welcome to the club. Silly hats are optional.
I also think after writing everyday it has become a habit and sometimes I’m not entirely sure why I am doing it. Oh yeah, you’re a writer, alright.
Why do you write or why do you think there are writers? I’ve been writing a long time now. I’ve wired my brain for this. I’m really not sure I’m qualified to do much else any more, despite my hodge-podge collection of ‘qualifications’. I write because I want to express ideas and stories in ways that are succinct, arresting, beautiful, and utterly my own. I want to reach people who don’t know me, who have never met me and inspire or encourage or entertain them, or even sometime irritate them if I’m in the mood.
As for why there are writers: there are writers because there are readers. There are readers because we have evolved to recognise patterns and there’s no more pleasing pattern than the narrative. We are storytelling mammals because we are first story-receiving mammals.
And lastly- this challenge has been like school for me. There have been simple rules to follow, but do you think I can survive outside it? What will I need to do to survive outside it? You’ve trained yourself to find stories, craft them, and put them together in a way that other people enjoy. You already have your basic survival kit in order. So where do you envisage this going? What kind of form would you like to use? What kind of help might you need to reach a bigger audience? Think about that for a while and take your time, but don’t dismiss the success you’ve achieved so far. Try and use whatever platform you’ve established to get to the next level and keep thinking ahead.
These answers comforted me a great deal about leaving this challenge behind. I realised the question “am I a writer?” is not the question I am really asking- I’ll have to let go of that question now. What I really want to know is, “am I okay?” “am I improving” “will I be alright?”: Approval – the golden chalice for most writers… and humans for that matter. It seems ridiculously vain when I see it written down now, but it’s true. Humans: we like approval and we like narratives.
Here’s my story. I imagine it as a picture book.
“Am I okay?” the bluebird asked the philosopher.
“Depends what you mean by okay,” replied the philosopher.
“Am I okay?” the bluebird asked the mathematician.
“That’s a bit vague,” replied the mathematician. “Do you want it as a percentage or decimal?”
“Am I okay?” the bluebird asked the meditator.
“Look inside yourself,” replied the meditator. “Do you feel okay?”
“Am I okay?” the bluebird asked a peacock.
“Yes,” replied the peacock.
“Don’t you want to know my definition of ‘okay’ or how to express your answer as a decimal?” asked the bluebird.
“No. I like you, I think you’re going to be okay.”