Writing, by Ultan Banan. Ruminations on the form.

Writing, Part 1

Let’s try and discuss this plainly, without any academic guff. Writing. Why I do it. What I get out of it.  It’s a simple enough business, putting words on paper. But I’m also a student of literature, so I get carried away when I talk about it. Today, we’ll try and steer clear of any verbiage. See? Slipping in the big words already, and we’re not even out of the first paragraph yet.

Moving on. I started writing about three years ago. I was off work for stress and I had a year to kill, and I decided to sit down and write a novel. Just for something to do. So I sat down and went to work, and after about six months I’d banged out a YA thriller. I was even naïve enough then to think it was worth reading, and so I polished it up and sent it out, and got ignored and got a few rejections, and it took another six months until I realised it was a piece of shit. Lest that’s not entirely clear, it was fucking awful. To this day it’s still on a hard drive somewhere, and I’m still afraid to look at it. But who hasn’t started out and written something so bad it’s frightening?

So I moved on. Wrote a few other things. I even wrote a children’s book. Not sure it was good, but it was better. The fog was starting to clear. But it took about half a million words before I started to relax into it, let go, feel it, feel it happening on the page, the way you get when you switch off and just let it spill out. Took a while, but I got there. I don’t feel it every time; sometimes it’s difficult, tenuous, tense, but I’m alright with that. It always comes eventually. So I keep at it, and the words keep coming, and each time I turn out stuff that I like a little bit better. Progress.

Why have I kept at it? To stay busy, mostly. I’m occupied, and therefore I’m not thinking. Like a lot of people who tend to the arts, I struggled, and continue to struggle, with my mental health. So there’s that too. Catharsis and what-have-ya. Flow. Purging all the shite that builds up in the psyche, day to day, week to week, year to year. It keeps me sane. Which, as much as I may have embraced insanity in my younger years, is underrated. I maintain some level of mental health, and I get to produce something too. It may not be pretty, but it’s something I created. By my own hands. I’ll be dead someday, but something I made will still be around. And who can’t get behind that?

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