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On Writing

A couple of things happened this week that made me want to write a little about writing.

I always loved writing stories. At Primary School 'Creative Writing' class was with History the only class I really liked (dyslexia already meaning that maths and formal English were a nightmare, and PE was a lost cause from day one) Reading always came naturally to me, and I read voraciously from a young age. I had a vocabulary beyond my years as a result and frequently was accused of somehow 'cheating' on assignments (though how a 7 year old 'cheats' at writing a poem about the Great Fire of London is still beyond me) I actually remember censoring myself then, telling myself 'don't use that word it'll make you sound too clever'

My love of writing wasn't beaten out of my by High School (most everything else was figuratively and literally at times) and reading and writing still remained my love and my escape. Though as time went on I lost some of my love for the formal subject leaning instead towards history.

The first reason I started thinking about writing this week was the 20th Anniversary of 'The X Files'. I was going to, and probably will, write a geeky post about that show. It was a defining element of my teenage years, but most importantly it made me begin to write in earnest. I started by writing fanfiction (yes I'm not ashamed, I've even written another blog post about it. http://phdconfessions.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/fifty-shades-of-fan-fiction.html ) more than that though 'The X Files' inspired me again. I was always writing, my yearbook even has a short poem written by my friends about me writing. Yes. We were that cool.

There's always been writing in my life. Perhaps its being an only child, but there have always been stories running around my head. I often wonder (and perhaps I shouldn't give this too much thought) what people who don't think like that, think about. Probably they get a lot more done a lot faster. But I can't imagine a train journey, or a run or hell even a shower without thinking about random characters and stories in my head.

It's also not just stories and plays and characters, its essays and analysis. I always know I'm watching a play that is something special when I start writing an essay on it in my head. An essay I may never write, or one that may find its way into an email to a like minded friend, or a blog post. But its important its my way of sharing what's in my head. So maybe only 3 or 4 people read my ramblings on a play I saw. So what? I shared it, I enjoyed writing it maybe one of those 3 will see it too. I'm lucky also to have friends who also enjoy the odd rambling email essay on what I've seen and will put up with my thought processes on it.

I'm not a people person. I'm introverted, I'm better on page than in person. I can 'turn it on' for a conference paper or presentation, or to teach for an hour. But I'm always better on the page. It's no wonder I had so many pen pals as a child, or that I still enjoy talking to people online today. I'm just better written down. And yes, I'm actually more honest. Probably those people who I communicate via the written word get closer to a 'real' version of me.

So writing is important to me. It's my outlet, my place where I escape to in stories and characters. It's my way of expressing myself. Oddly I don't write when I'm upset. I don't have the clarity of mind to write when my mind is whirring. I need concentration to write. When I'm upset or angry I need something physical, I run, I swim, I sing, I bake. I don't write. Writing is considered, slow, reflective. Anger or upset doesn't produce words in me. (Well ok, anyone who knows me knows they produce swear words that would make a sailor blush) But I do write to talk about the issues that make me angry. Here I've written on everything from annoying children to David Cameron. Which if you think about it aren't that far removed of topics. Not many people read this, but it's important to me to say these things.

It's important anyone can say these things too. I chose to do my research on plays that came out of a desperate time and situation, writers fighting against the AIDS crisis. 'My' playwrights used their words to express their anger, frustration and desperation at situations beyond their control. In writing about them they may not have actually changed anything, they didn't directly save lives, but they did assert that they were there, that they existed. 'My' playwrights also were writing against a culture that really wanted them to be quiet and go away. The things they said made others uncomfortable and rightly so. They were only imaginings, words on a page and later imagined situations on the safety of a stage. But they had real impact. The first real voice in the AIDS crisis came in the form of Larry Kramer's angry words in an obscure newsletter, but they became so important.

To date I've never said anything as important as these people. I've never had cause to. But it's important that I'm able to, that I continue to speak. Even if it is only waffle about Sherlock Holmes and The X Files.

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