I have to admit that being a writer sometimes makes me feel superior to other people. I'm going to stress 'sometimes' here, and if there are any other writers in the room, then that tends to drop to 'never'. I guess it's based on the idea that the time I spend trying to drag the right word from my subconscious is somehow a valid and noble enterprise. I'd like to think that when I'm sitting there on the train with my notepad, I'm doing something a lot more constructive than the guy sitting two rows away who's always playing World of Warcraft on his laptop.
But is writing any different to knitting, or doing crosswords or updating your Facebook status thirty times a day? Heaven knows, there are enough bad writers in the world to fill up the internet a thousand times over. In fact, here I am adding to the word landfill right now. But nonetheless, there's a definite appeal to being a writer, a perceived status that the word confers upon us. Even better than this is the term 'author', which I've promised myself I won't use until I finally get my name on the front of a book!
Then again, people who are attracted to being published for the kudos alone, tend to be keen to minimise the actual 'work' part of the equation and move as swiftly as possible to the million pound advance, launch party and book-signing aspects. How else can you explain that the very first session to sell out at the forthcoming Oxford Literary Festival was a creative writing workshop entitled "Turning your life into stories"? This ignores the fact that advances are dropping like a stone, lots of authors have to contribute towards their own launch party and that even established authors get to sit forlornly at their own signings, mentally trying to pull punters into their circle of influence. This is not a life of glamour!
I'm sure that no-one would deny that writing well is hard. Like, both mentally and emotionally challenging, filled with self-doubt and subjective opinion. And I hate that part of it, because it's so damned difficult that all of the fun seems to drain out of the activity. But that difficulty is also its saving grace, because what comes out the other side is beautiful. Not perfect. Not timeless. But somehow lovely. And that's something that World of Warcraft guy can never touch.