Are you still writing?
The London Book Fair was quite breathtaking this year. Writers and plenty of them were there, sharing, inspiring and giving us enough material to talk about and write about. Book fairs should be about writers –without them, publishers would not exist, books would not come to be, ideas would be left to float in space. That’s what writing is about… seizing those thoughts or dreams or fears that seem to affect us all and making them accessible to others via the written or the spoken word.
Because a writer is but a snatcher of ideas and suggestions. Such things of course belong to all of us, but only a writer can, literally, put pen to paper and capture them in no uncertain way.
During this year’s Book Fair, the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi), of which I am proud to be a member, gave a presentation on how writers have to take on their destiny and get on with publishing their own works. With new technologies and accessibility to all, it is now not only possible but as easy as publishing this blog. No, we do not have to sit around for a publisher to decide whether they enjoy our stuff or not, whether they like us personally, whether we remind them of someone they hate or love… in the publishing world the personal intermingles with the professional more than in any other world, I know not why.
The 2013 London Book Fair gracefully allowed me to make new friends and consolidate older friendships. I flirted with ideas, fell in love with projects, got entangled in relationships with words… this is what writers like and what they are about. No, we are not alone in our little towers of less-endangered plexiglass!
In this setting, with hundreds of stands, with thousands of books on offer, with publishing proposals to shut you up forever, there was a question that stood out among all the words I heard and spoke that day. The question of all questions –the one question that you must never, ever, not once, ask a writer for fear of all hell breaking loose. Someone asked me this:
“And so are you still writing?”
Am I still writing! This was my affirmation, my statement of fact, my forceful rendering of the story of my life. Dear, dear inquisitor: I have never ceased to write, I have not once stopped being a writer –every day of my life is a writing day, every hour of my waking hours and of my sleeping hours and of my in-between hours is a time to write, whether on the screen, in my mind, with my eyes or through my ears. Life is all about writing, there is no more to me than that. It is a destiny, most times a blessing, sometimes a curse, and it cannot be any other way. I might as well be asked: are you still breathing and thinking? Are you still alive?
No, writers have no choice in this because writing is so much more important than they can ever be.