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Friday, January 12, 2007

On Writing

Ever since I can remember I have been writing. The hunger to write is felt as keenly as the hunger for gold that makes the athlete get out on the track and run.

Whenever I set out to write something and my fingers reach the keyboard, just for an instant I'm transformed back to the time my parents bought me my first typewriter. I was about six, and had wanted one for ages. It was a mechanical desktop typewriter and - even though I purchased an electronic one soon after - it took me some time to abandon it.

The smell of it, the ritual of changing the ribbon, the metal thud as I pushed down on the keys, the ring of its bell would all spell out to me that I was writing. I have no idea why the connection with my typewriter went deeper than a connection with a pen, but I knew that machine back to front.

Because of the wear and tear of mechanical parts, each typewriter has its individual "signature" and I could easy easily tell if the written text had come from mine. I knew so well its worn out "e" that sloped a little to the left, and the "s" with a slight crease in its middle. We had notched up a lot of mileage, a lot of words together. Discoveries had been made, journeys taken, roads well travelled - we had gotten lost and found the way home together.

On one of those trips - as many before me have I know - I pondered on what writing means to me. As a child, I was naive in thinking that if I wrote then everyone must do it, it was as natural and part of me as breathing is to us.

However, I came to realise that good writing - and the subject of writing - is something that needs work. True writing is writing about what everyone knows, but don't know they know - and trying to give stories just enough voice so that they tell themselves. That's my secret, for what's it worth. Don't strangle the story, let it free. Trust in it. If you don't trust your story, then don't tell it.

As to why I write - I do so because I have to feed the hunger in me, because I believe wholeheartedly in literature, in books. I write because I believe in the immortality of libraries and because I love the smell of words as they come off the ink.

I write to be alone, but so that I won't be forgotten. I write to be happy, and to make others happy.

I write to lose myself and to find my way home.

Read the concluding part here.

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