I don’t like writing. No, really. Taking a word, following it up with another word, tossing in some more words, then chucking some punctuation and stuff in, and then trying to get all your words and punctuation to actually mean something rather than hanging around on the page like itinerant yoofs on a street corner… the whole process leaves me in serious danger of pulling a brain muscle.
Also, what if noone reads it anyway? Or people do read it and they don’t like it? Or your typing fingers mount a revolt against your brain and render your serious essay on the Middle East peace process as a ten-page diatribe on the shortcomings of your boss’s Mum? It’s all too much to take. Writing: don’t do it, kids.
Thing is, I was always sort of good at it. 13-year-old me could nail English Language homework assignments in record time. Of course, 13-year-old me would given his left nut to trade an English homework nailing ability for an ability to actually speak to girls, but sadly the opportunity never arose and I was lumbered with writing skills instead. Not that I ever actually wrote anything (or at least, nothing that wasn’t foisted upon me by the National Curriculum) as a kid. Writing ranked about eleventy millionth on my list of potential leisure activities, positioned somewhere in between cross-dressing and having an enema.
This state of apathy continued as I meandered through life, went to uni and eventually started working. I didn’t want writing. Writing didn’t want me. Sorted. Admittedly, at the age of 22 I did have an ill-advised foray into composing short stories (I was in the world’s shittiest temp job and had time on my hands…), but their appalling lack of anything approaching quality made it even clearer that the English language and I were not happy bedfellows.
My mother tongue and I were offered a sort of relationship counseling service last year, however, when my fiance’s roller derby league needed a game write-up doing. I like roller derby a lot. (If you don’t know what roller derby is, go here) With word getting round that I a) had the ability to string words together until they resembled some kind of legible prose, and b) knew enough about the game to blag a 1200 word article, I found myself tasked with the piece in question.
“It’ll be fun!”, thought I. “It’ll pass the time and give me an interesting new challenge to face. I for one can’t wait to engage in my first foray into sports journalism!”
It was a massive pain in the arse. After producing a dire first draft that read as if I’d written it by picking words out of a dictionary at random I began to feel that I was a) far too inept and b) far too lazy to write a piece that people would, y’know, actually want to read. To get it to a postable-online standard took the best part of a million rewrites. Oddly enough though, it went down fairly well and I got asked to do a few more, which I agreed to more on the basis that I wanted to help out the team than through any desire to spend my evenings coming up with synonyms for the word “powerjam”.
Thus did my amateur foray into sports journalism continue. I wrote more articles, and to my surprise found each successive one to be slightly easier to finish without wanting to slit my wrists. Turns out that writing, like playing the guitar and masturbating, gets easier and more enjoyable the more you practice doing it. Who knew? Suddenly, I was coming back from games already composing the writeups in my head, rather than wondering how long I could put it off before they absolutely had to be done.
And then… I got wind via Twitter that a new UK roller derby magazine was looking for writers. Tempted as I was, this would be dangerous new ground. Doing a few articles to help out some friends was one thing, but contributing to an actual, real magazine written by other actual, real people would require a small modicum of professionalism and the ability to hit deadlines, neither of which I had. I ummed. I ahhed. I thought about it for a bit. I wasn’t sure if my writing was good enough, or if it would be too much of a commitment to make.
By the time I had finished umm-ing and ahh-ing and thinking about it it was four days later and my errant typing fingers, taking advantage of the conscious part of my brain being otherwise occupied, had already tweeted the editor of Lead Jammer to say that I’d love to write some pieces for the magazine. It was official: I was now an actual writer.
All I had to do now was do the writing bit.
Long story short, I did a couple of vaguely Charlie Brooker-esque columns for the first issue (except they were about a millionth as good as Charlie Brooker’s columns, but you get my point). I got some good feedback on them. I genuinely enjoyed coming up with them. I started planning future pieces. And that’s when I started thinking “Hey, writing articles about roller derby is kind of fun! Maybe I should write about other things too!”
Which more or less brings us to the present day. For the first time in my entire life, I have a compulsion to sit down and write things. I am like Richard Dreyfuss in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, except instead of being inexorably drawn to make rock sculptures out of mashed potato I find myself authoring grammatically dodgy blog posts about any old shit. As such, I have taken the unprecedented (by me) step of setting up a blog all of my very own. Specifically, this one. You can think of it as a sort of literary pressure valve, allowing me to gently release all that built up writing-tension in a way that doesn’t harm small animals or children. Or maybe a literary sewer pipe, connecting the overflowing toilet pan of my brain with the festering waste processing facility that is the blogosphere. Lovely.
My extensive research into blogging (Five minutes on Wikipedia’s “blogging” page) tells me that the best blogs are those with a singular purpose; a focus on a given topic (music, cooking, wife-swapping, whatever…) which allows them to really engage with their readership. I think it’s safe to say that this will not be the case here. Rather, this will be the Worst Kind Of Blog: the kind where the author just writes random musings with no real point to anything. There will be plenty of roller derby – related bits but I’ll try to avoid making it overly derby focused, on the basis that I already spend enough time writing about roller derby as it is. I’ll most likely spend most of my time regaling you with funny stories about my cats or something. You lucky bastards!
And then I’ll probably just get bored of the whole thing and stop updating it anyway.