I really must start noting down ideas for these entries. I always have The Book to fall back on, to start looking at the tensions of writing, but it’s all pretty straightforward – I’m not writing because I’m not convinced that I can do the idea justice.

I’m reading a great philosophy book at the moment so with that mood in mind I’ve a theory. I don’t write because I have a perception of ‘writers’ and what quality that suggests, and though I can recognise my ideas are strong that process happens because I let it, not take it.

By writing I am deigning to believe my writing can aspire to a Platonic ‘form of writing’, as in – all writing which is laudably good. In doing so I’m also challenging the ‘writers’ I admire by stating that, simply, I can do what they have made such a success of doing.

If a successful and fulfilling life is to take a whacking great hammer to all the pedestals you have constructed yourself, for whatever reasons, then being successful means not only believing that you are equal to those you admire, but that you are in your own way also superior.

What’s the greatest sign of having succeeded if it isn’t that the people you admire begin to admire your own work? So by writing I’d have to believe that I am not only equal to the task of being a successful writer – that I am skilled to do so – but that I can do something no one else can.

That’s the elemental part of being a writer in my estimation, that you are of yourself entirely so that no one else, though they might also be a writer, is the ‘same’, and so in that way you are better at your writing than any other writer could ever be.

Which leads that if I write I am uncovering the thing at which I am best at, the writing which is my own at which I am better than anyone else. Therefore I’m not only toppling the pedestals I’ve built but destroying the relics I’d mounted on them at the same time.

All that is left is me, my writing, and the fact that by striving to write well – not simply writing for the sheer time wasting consequence of it – I am confessing to a belief that I can be more than just a great writer, I can be my own writer, distinctive.

Perhaps I am struggling with the perception that, in publishing terms, the goal would seem to be about becoming ‘the next…’ or ‘a more readable…’ or ‘a more literary…’ or ‘like… but with…’, to be the same but different or simply an improved version of an existing writer.

To aspire to be my own writer goes against pursuing the comfort of a genre, of genre success, of the negotiable confines of being better than anyone else at ‘being’ something. To aspire to be a strong expression of my strong ideas is to say that I am as good as my ideas.

And I have to be as good as my ideas, because they are mine. But I must express these ideas well enough in writing in order to do them justice, because no one else will write them, and in effect my ambition is such that no one else could write these stories.

This is nonsense. I don’t write because I fear being unable to ably express my ideas, which I am proud of, and therefore for others to rate the ideas through the quality of the writing and not the idea itself, since an idea is just an idea, not a finished product. Which leaves me, despite having good ideas, effectively useless.

That’s enough of that.


About Ben Catley-Richardson

Writer, reader, husband. Father!
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