Being a writer can mean many, many different things. Sometimes, it means hours spent alone, dragging reluctant words from the depths of a troubled mind, forcing ink onto the blank page, one uncooperative phrase after another. Other times, it means acting as ringmaster to a cacophony of uncontrollable characters who fly across the pages with minds of their own, wilfully disregarding your own intentions for them. On occasion it seems almost impossible to stem the flow of pulsing purple prose from your fingertips as hours race by unnoticed, strings of sentences clicking into perfect place like links of literary gold chains.
Other times a writer’s lot will be that of a researcher, chasing down facts to support the inspiration, carefully noting the things that will never make it to the page but must be understood, nonetheless. Writers are the mothers of their works, yet must also be the butchers of the same – and be brave enough to wield the editor’s sabre, even to the most loved of their compositions.
There are times when to be a writer means to be one swathed in rejection and broken dreams, yet still find it within them to take up the pen once more, in spite of the negative tides that cast them time and time again against the rocky shores of disappointment.
But sometimes – on a damp and drizzly Monday in Cambridge, say – being a writer means sitting around in your pants, nursing the remnants of a head cold and watching re-runs of The Sweeney. Because life’s funny like that.
* Top quality line from the endlessly quotable Jack Regan, from The Sweeney