I write; therefore I am a writer

vintage-radiosIf I had to chose which of the many forms of media I would hate to give up – TV, dvd, ipod, ipad, laptop – it is an almost impossible task but I know, really deep down, it would probably be the radio.

I can almost believe I’m multi-tasking (not something anyone can usually accuse me of – damn this grammar fixation I seem to have developed lately: ‘of which’….) when I have a radio on while I carry out some mindless task. I can drive with the radio on (and really, I’d be happy if I never had to drive myself again). I can read and write and sleep. I can allow ideas to permeate some bit of my brain without realising it – fr’instance my bedside alarm is a radio; the other morning, the day of Cameron’s reshuffle, I woke convinced William Hague had announced he was to become a bishop – it was only when the headlines came around that I realised his resignation and the Synod of the Church of England’s decision to allow women Bishops had been conflated by my subconscious into one extraordinary, and in some ways, harrowing and nightmarish story.

I’ve cycled and walked miles with a radio burbling in my ear; I’ve enjoyed sporting events in the most intense ways via a radio broadcast – Rob Andrew’s scream when Jonny Wilkinson’s drop goal won England the Rugby world cup will remain with me forever. I laugh and cry with , fulminate at and relax to radio.

And the pictures… oh the pictures on radio are the best, the most profound and the most extraordinary I have ever not seen. When Douglas Adam’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was first broadcast I knew I had experienced pure radio love. I can still remember how happy it made me. Written for radio it achieved a remarkable goal for me. I lay on my bedroom floor for the thirty minutes of each broadcast, doing sit ups (I was in a phase where the existence of an ab was suspected but not yet visible) and entered a transcendental state of euphoria.

So I listen to a lot of radio and since I retired from fulltime employment I’ve discovered some day time gems, one of which is Woman’s Hour. A perfectly pitched magazine programme that rarely has a dull article and when it does it is soon over and we’re on to something else. I’ve learnt masses, felt deep anger and had laugh out loud moments of embarrassment in the deli (social etiquette point no 1, for the twenty-first century – when entering any shop tug out your earphones).

The other day, on Woman’s Hour, Jenni Murray interviewed Warsan Shire a young poet, the current Young Poet Laureate. If you’ve not yet heard of her, you will. Her poem, For Women Who are Difficult to Love, has already been voted in the top 50 modern love poems in the Guardian. Try it out. I think it is great (even if I think the title could do with some work). Warsan was asked the usual questions about how she started writing. She said she started at six but it wasn’t until someone encouraged her that she believed she could write. Until then ‘It stayed in the bedroom’, she said.

It stayed in the bedroom.

What a great way to describe a writer’s insecurity. So much ‘stays in the bedroom’, tucked under the mattress, hidden in the back of the wardrobe, slipped beneath the carpet, secreted down the side of the bed.

Until I reached 50, I didn’t even realise I wanted to write, my passion was so suppressed. My bedroom was inside me; the blank sheet of paper, the empty screen on the laptop, they weren’t even on my horizon.

Even now I have the same sort of feeling, thins are still stuck in a  bedroom, even though I’ve written a book.

How hard is it to actually write that sentence?

I have written a book.

Because what I really feel is I have written a book length group of words. It is still almost pretentious to say I have ‘written a book’. In the same way that I eschew the label ‘writer’ when applied to myself. I can agree with: ‘I think therefore I am’. But ‘I write therefore I am a writer’? That feels a step too far, still.

My book length group of words has a cover and is going through a final edit. I will have to write a blurb and master Amazon’s publishing rules and the reformatting that is apparently necessary to self publish. And then there is print on demand for those who might (even this feels strange to write) want to get hold of, acquire – dare I say ‘buy’? Why would anyone want to spend money on it? – a hard copy.

Will I feel different when it is finally published? I think so. I will be able to say just that and if something is published maybe I can say I’m a writer. It will feel damn good, if I can. And it will mean I stop tinkering with my book length group of words. Finally. And then I can move onto the next book, and the next. They are stacking up like aircraft over Heathrow but one by one I will bring them down and land them on an unsuspecting public.

Time to open that bedroom door…

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published four books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars, Salisbury Square and Buster & Moo. In addition I have published three anthologies of short stories and a memoir of my mother. More will appear soon. I will try and continue to blog regularly at geofflepard.com about whatever takes my fancy. I hope it does yours too. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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20 Responses to I write; therefore I am a writer

  1. lucciagray says:

    Thanks for introducing me to Jenni Murray.
    I share many of your feelings as a writer. It was also a hidden passion until I was over 50. Congratulations on opening the door!
    ‘It stayed in the bedroom’ reminds me of Emily Dickinson, who literally left all her unpublished poems in little hand-written and sewn notebooks in her bedroom…


    • TanGental says:

      I suppose that is better than Gerard Manley Hopkins who burnt all his early work because he felt it didn’t glory god sufficiently. We writers carry so many hang ups!


  2. Charli Mills says:

    Grand analogy of your books stacking up like aircraft…ready to land on readers! You’re a marvelous wordsmith. You are a writer. Don’t sweat the grammar; that’s for editors with sharp eyes and a keen sense of rules. Writers break rules. That’s why we lurk in the bedroom. Writer’s see pictures from the radio (my daughter the Radio Geek is going to love your post). Warsan Shire’s poem and her voice! So beautiful.


    • TanGental says:

      Don’t sweat the grammar. Yes I need to refocus. And a fellow radio head. Excellent. You have your next President!


      • Charli Mills says:

        Don’t I wish that prediction came true! Well, you are truly a writer in 2017. You are a Writer! Let’s revisit in another 3 years. 🙂 Maybe we’ll have a different president by then.


  3. Archaeologist says:

    Here, I feel I should point out one of the dangers of authorship.
    A few years ago the teacher and I were wandering around the main marquee at the Oxford Literary Festival. As one would expect every other stand was promoting an authors work, or recently published volumes. The other 50% of the stands seemed to be promoting some sort of alcoholic beverages or were working bars.
    The teachers comment was,
    “I never realised that authors were mostly alcoholics.”
    I know that this wouldn’t happen to you and I wont give my response as it sounds too smug. But other writers beware.


  4. willowdot21 says:

    I do know exactly what you say about the radio, I love the radio…. I also keep my work hidden! I also have , covers mouth and whispers to you and you alone! written a book awaiting for me to to release it on the Amazon scene…. when.. Goodness knows when ever I find the nerve!


  5. Annecdotist says:

    Exciting that you’re nearly there, Geoff, and good to see you introduced some people to the delights of Woman’s Hour – and the pinnacle of success for any writer would have to be being interviewed there by Jenni Murray.


  6. Sherri says:

    You are indeed a writer Geoff, and an excellent one at that! I love your style. I didn’t start writing, properly writing, until 3 years ago, and it took me ages before I had the guts to fess up and say that I am a writer. Even then I whispered it…
    Next, as with you, book publication (although I’m still writing my first draft!) and then what? Well..you will be a Published Author! Yowzser! Yes Geoff, it is indeed time to come out of the bedroom… 😉


  7. Pingback: I write; therefore I am a writer | TanGental

  8. The ‘book length group of words’ is a good description of that first thing that is ‘finished’. The sense of achievement mingled with the embarrassment of trying to decide what to call it.


  9. trifflepudling says:

    Totally agree about the radio. That RWC 2003 Final piece of commentary makes my hair stand on end even now. And an opposite experience when I listened to a R4 programme about the building of the M3 extension at Twyford Down and the fight to prevent it: they used ‘Somewhere Only We Know’ by Keane at the end and I blubbed my eyes out!


  10. You are definitely a writer Geoff – and then some!!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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