Tuesday, 9 February 2010

A Seductive Business.

Writing is such a seductive business. Or perhaps more accurately, writing is the business of seduction.

Such an exercise in blind faith. Although you don’t write for anyone in particular, with the possible exception of yourself, as you embark on the long journey of optimism that is a novel what you are really hoping for, truly longing for, is to be chosen. Chosen by an agent. Chosen by a publisher. Chosen from the thousands of other books that are published that month, that year, all lined up, shimmering on the shelves like nervous boys at a school dance.

The best that you can hope for is that one girl, one reader, will like your jacket from across the room, across the shop, will come over, pick you up and see what you have to say for yourself, like it enough to spend some more time with you, open you up and let you take her on a journey into the world that you have created for yourself, for her. All you need, artistically, is just that one reader, that one lover, that one girlfriend, one wife.

Of course the business part means that commercially you need to whore yourself out to as many hundreds or thousands as you can manage. Perhaps writing is the seduction of prostitution. For the brief time that you spend together you make someone feel special, make them laugh, make them cry, make them feel less alone in the world and then when the last page has been turned, you fold quietly away, leaving them to sleep, to return to their normal life. It’s perhaps no accident that authors, like prostitutes, are paid in advance for their wares.

But while you are together and she gets to know you, to explore you between the sheets of paper on which your heart is laid bare, your very soul exposed, that one reader is your entire world and if you’re lucky, you are theirs.



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