Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Stop Thief!

The other day somebody asked me to look at his manuscript. But when I agreed, he got anxious about showing it to me, worrying that I might steal his work. I was insulted, of course, because it's as if he'd invited me into his house and then asked, as I stood on the threshold, 'You won't steal anything, will you? However, I wasn't particularly surprised. It happens a lot.

I don't know any author who writes for money. I don't mean that we don't all like getting paid. I'm as good at spending money as the next man or woman and I'm always pleased to see royalties being deposited in my bank account. Nevertheless, I don't do it for the money. I write because I'm compelled to, and that's true of every author I know.

If I were to examine my compulsion more closely, I could point to a whole series of drivers located almost exclusively in my childhood. I could say that I write to make sense of who I have become and how that happened, and that this is true even when my stories appear to have nothing whatsoever to do with me.

I could add that I'm fifty nine years old, I look after my grandchildren two days a week, and the other five days are a furious scramble to fit everything else in; but the older I get, the more urgent the need to unravel the tangled ball of string that is my inner world.

That's why I'm not interested in stealing anyone else's narratives. I have my own obsessions. If I don't write them down they keep me awake at night. In fact, they keep me awake at night even when I do write them down. So there's no need to chase after me crying, "Stop thief!" My pockets are empty. It's my head that's full.



Derek said...

Greetings, Brian. I've nominated you for a Liebster blog thingie - details here:

Brian Keaney said...

Thanks, Derek. That's very kind of you.