Continuing my occasional series on the value of writing, I mention in passing – though this is a reason that I have argued with for decades – that I write in order to use my time for something constructive, and so that when my critics see me sitting, they will not call me lazy.

There is such pressure to be seen to be useful in our timetabled lives that it is almost impossible – especially as a product of the tradition I grew up with which may be changing – to sit quietly and do nothing, without attracting comments, such as how about you read a book? Why don’t you do something useful…..? And to such critics, writing as a profession offers a wonderful way out. So, to that end, does reading, because of course we learn everything we need to know from reading, both books we adore, and those we detest: it becomes part of the discipline of writing to work out why I love or hate certain authors, and what I might do about it.

So, I plomp myself down at my work desk and at the end of a morning may have produced four or five pages of text, if I’m fortunate. Unless I am slavishly needy for praise, it would be unusual for me to print them off and wave them in the face of my returning spouse, ‘See what I did today??!” But then, very few of the tasks I get done are of the sort that produce tangible results: Look, no dishes! Look, no laundry! Look, no angry child, no bills, no broken lights…..

Life is a compromise, of course. But writing, producing stories, writing about characters who become more real with each day that passes, seems to me to be a blessed way both to escape the strictures of routine, and to have fun.

It was Terry Pratchett who said,

‘…If you don’t turn your life into a story, you just become a part of someone else’s story….’


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