Thank you for visiting the inside of my head…

I have a love of writing – in just about any form – and have started to post some of my ramblings on the subject of writing on this site. Many writers can trace their attraction to writing right back to their early years and school. My love affair with words didn’t happen at school however. My school was truly awful!

I have vague recollections of strained sonnets from Shakespeare and inarticulate embarrassing ‘front of class’ readings of Arthur Miller’s Lord of the Flies. I remember folding the corners of the uninspiring grey covers inwards into paper airplane shapes. It was just so boring. I love all of their works now, but back then it all seemed such a chore. Our so called ‘creative writing’ essay topics were chosen from big state approved books of the same colour as the drab walls and floors that seemed to be the standard school colour scheme back then. Hardly inspiring. You had to write according to rules as laid down by some academic committee. Free thought wasn’t really an option and those who tried to express themselves through clever wordery were usually ridiculed in-front of the class, or worse still, the school assembly.

p.s. I don’t blame the teachers… I blame the system.

It would appear that the same tired method of approaching literature and writing exists in today’s modern schools – a fact I am reminded of daily when trying to encourage my two young children to read. They simply don’t see the point and who could blame them? Most kids are not encouraged at school to enter the minds of the great writers or lose themselves in a fantasy adventure taking place on some imagery planet in a far flung galaxy. Maybe the blame lies in the multitude of media devices that constantly feed their brains with highly visual stimulating images? Where’s the room for words inside those crowded brightly lit craniums?

Someone once asked me if I thought the written word was dead? No way ! It is very much alive and kicking. We just need to reignite the spark in our children that once turned us on to the written word. That part is up to us, the writers, the parents and the people who understand the wonderful world that exists between those two hard covers. As a child I loved thumbing through a massive encyclopedia to search for some amazing fact about a country in deepest darkest South America. Or looking up an interesting snippet of text to use in my homework. There was a rewarding feeling associated with locating the right piece of information. Today, most things can be researched in seconds on the internet. If it takes more than three nano-seconds to find, we get bored, moan, and move on!

Reading and writing should be inspiring! I want to read a book or article and come away feeling like my life has been enriched in some way (even a minor shift is good). Of course, all of this comes down to the art of the writer, and writing, for most, is not easy. It is a collection of skills that have to be improved on every day. It is hard, sometimes financially unrewarding, work. But… it is something that we love… and to love what you do makes for a happier life.

Stephen Welby