There is one sentence which puzzles me every time someone says it in my earshot – “I wish I could write”. Now – I am pretty certain that the people who say that to me have been to school and learned how to read and write (that assumption is because it is usually said after they have read some piece of writing which I was responsible for).
When I ask them what they mean they usually add two words to the end of that sentence – “like you”.
The strange thing is – I don’t consider myself to be a good writer. I can reel off a list of people who are far better at writing than I will ever be. These people can transport me to another world or make me feel as though I am going through the same thing as them just by reading their words.
Before you accuse me of false modesty – I know I have a talent for stringing words together in a way that people seem to like reading. However, that is not the way I would describe a good writer. My test for how good I think someone is at writing is – can they make a very difficult subject seem easy to understand??? Can they get me so deeply interested in a subject which I have little or no interest in that I want to learn more about it???
I suppose I was lucky to have one of my favourite authors as an English teacher when I was in Secondary school (I am even luckier to be able to consider him a friend). Now – if you want me to point you in the direction of someone I consider to be a great writer – may I recommend you read any book by Steve Bowkett? In fact, it is partially thanks to Mr Bowkett that you are reading this blog post. Not only did he convince me that daydreaming is a very good thing (especially when you put it on paper and get paid for it) but he has been one of the people who have actively encouraged my writing.
I have friends who I could be really jealous of because they can do things which either I cannot (like driving) or I can do them but to nowhere near the standard which they can (like singing or painting or drawing).
There are a couple of things which I feel come in very handy as a writer. The obvious one is a love of reading and writing. However, I think you also need to have a love of language as well. (Let’s just say that if you are trying to think of a present for me that I will love I can make it very easy for you. Buy me a book on words and you will be a friend for life. It can be a dictionary, a thesaurus, one of those books on English dialects, a book on the origins of words, etc. Anything involving words and language is good.)
I will finish with something my Mum said told me I used to do when I was little. Apparently, whenever we went out and I saw anything written – signs, posters, etc, I used to say, “Look Mummy! Words!”. You could say that is proof that I have a lifelong addiction to those strange groups of letters which are all around us!!!