Saturday, 27 June 2009

Writing for Pleasure - Sally Nicholls

I was recently at a celebration for the summer solstice. As part of the event, participants shared poems and stories which they had written, many on appropriate themes.

Now, as you can imagine, most of the poems were dreadful, but that wasn't the point. They were fun. They were silly, and irreverent, and the authors had obviously had a great time writing them. They weren't intended to be published - at least I hope not - they were simply a way of having a good time, and creating something personal to be shared with the writer's friends.

Which got me thinking. Everyone who kicks a football round the park doesn't want to be a professional football player. Everyone who cooks doesn't want to be a chef. So why is there this assumption that if you write, you must want to do it professionally?

Whatever happened to writing for fun? Not to have it published - be that in a book, in a magazine, or on the internet. Not to worry about how many people have bought or downloaded it. Not for someone else to read at all. Simply for yourself or a few friends. For itself.

I used to write a diary, many years ago. I used to write funny sketches about the madness that was my university house - for my university friends to read. I have been known to write bad poetry for the eyes of my forgiving boyfriend only.

What happened to that? To writing for fun?


Katherine Langrish said...

I'm sure there's plenty of it still going on; but being by essence private, unless you're the friends or family for whom it's written, you'll never see it. And professional writers are the least likely to be shown it. I mean, I wouldn't offer to demonstrate my forehand to Andy Murray...
My father-in-law was a talented amateur comic poet, but his rhymes were only ever for family eyes.

AnneR said...

I think Kath is right - we only come across the people who want to publish. There are many things I am no good at but do anyway, but I do them in private and tell very people about them. If you tell people you play the piano, for instance (I don't, so don't ask), they ask you to play something. If you play the piano badly, it's best to keep quiet about it!

Jon M said...

On the other hand, the writing group I go to is a fair mix of people who write for fun and just have a go and those who aim for publication. I think people do write for fun and can share it with no expectation of it going any further.

Sally Nicholls said...

That's good. I'm glad it's not dead.

My great-aunt used to be part of a group which wrote poetry for fun. I remember one she wrote about evacuees thinking the roses were scarlet cabbages.

And isn't it sad that it took us a war,
To find children who hadn't seen roses before?