Have I forgotten how to write?
I’m not asking about my ability to string sentences together to express my thoughts and ideas. Clearly I wouldn’t have posted over 180 short pieces on this blog if that was the case.
I mean, have I lost the ability to write stories?
It is now 20 years since I studied Creative Writing and English Literature for my degree. I haven’t written a story since then.
Is time a factor?
Not really. In those twenty years I’ve had two extended periods of “unemployment” when I had more than enough time to devote to writing. One of those periods was immediately after graduation, so at that time it wasn’t even a matter of being out of practice.
The clear difference was that I had no need to write and there was no deadline to be met. It was something I could put off until another day. I wasn’t going to fail a course if I didn’t put fingers to keyboard and put my imagination to work.
Is it a matter of ideas (or lack of them).
Again, not really. I’ve found that the best stimulation to imagination is to start writing. My best ideas came through the process of writing. One sentence leading to another until the spark of a story started to form. And that’s the way I was able to write all of the stories and essays required for my course.
My failure hasn’t been due to lack of time or lack of ideas, but due to lack of commitment and application. I can write. I can write well – but do I really have the desire? The experience of the last 20 years seems to show that I don’t desire it enough.
I think again about my motivation at university. Was it all about the need to pass a course and gain a degree? Or was it the fact of my writing having a PURPOSE? That I was writing for a reason. Even if the ultimate aim was a degree, each individual project was going to be read – and isn’t that the hope of every writer and a motivation for them to write? To have a readership?