Lots of people know that I want to be a writer. Or rather, that I am a writer. After all, there’s no magical line that means you’re a writer only when you’re published, if you writer, you’re a writer.
There are two reactions that I remember the most though, that have stuck with me. Maybe because of what was said, maybe because of who said them.
My godmother, on a bus into town one day, told me I should get myself some work experience at the local paper if I really wanted to be a writer.
My gran said, in a way that only grans can, that if I was serious about being a writer, I’d be writing all the time and not ‘constantly playing on that bloody game boy’. I was still young, she meant the hand-held Nintendo console. There was no euphemism there.
I guess the reason that I remember them was because they’re wrong, and they were probably wrong because I didn’t explain it properly. I am not a writer. I don’t have any interest in writing up the facts about a man who rescued a dog from the local canal, nor do I derive much pleasure from holding a pen and scribbling things down – although there is some satisfaction from seeing a page of A4 complete with thoughts, spilled from my own mind.
I’m a storyteller. I want to tell stories. I write fiction and I constantly see new plots in every part of my life.
There’s a magic in holding someone’s rapt attention by telling them something that only existed in your head prior to that moment. I love making things up and telling them to my cousins, I come up with ideas for television shows, plots for existing TV, stories and dialogue for all sorts of characters that live in my head.
Sometimes, I will retell a real event, but with the retelling, it gains embellishments, certain events may move because it makes for a better story. That’s why I couldn’t be a journalist – I’d probably be sued for misrepresentation of the facts.
Now, when I tell people I want to be a writer, internally I chastise myself, because I don’t want to be a writer. I need to be a storyteller.