Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Writing Afterlife

On June 3rd, 2006, I wrote the first post on a website that would later evolve into Militant Ginger.

Back then, I was mostly blogging about writing - and boasting about how I was putting together what was sure to be a series of best-selling adventure stories about Eddy Newbolt!

(Still working on that - or not, as the case may be.)

My first ever post read:
After finding his fascinating blog about writing on the net, Exeter based writer Ian Hocking was kind enough to check out Adventure Eddy, and even had a few kind words to say about it. Read here.
Four years, three thousand miles and an extended sabbatical for Adventure Eddy later, I discovered this post on Ian's blog. In it, he basically announces his 'retirement' from writing.
"Fifteen years is a fair crack of the whip. As of now, I am no longer a writer of fiction."
Why? Because he feels he's not going to get anywhere with it.

Ian's written some cracking books - most notably Déjà Vu, a "clever and satisfying" sci-fi thriller which The Guardian said was written with "quiet skill" - but hasn't hit the big time like he'd once hoped he might.

As a result, he's become aware that the time and effort he's invested in writing has meant he's missed out on opportunities and experiences elsewhere:
"Many sacrifices have been made by me and the people who love me in order that I have the time and space to write. There is a cost to this; they deserve the benefit of seeing that the cost was not wasted and, as far as I can see, this is not going to happen."
I feel ashamed that I didn't read this post when he first wrote it. It's deeply touching and speaks to the very core of a writer's identity.

It makes me especially sad because Ian was one of the people who first inspired me to start blogging - something that's helped give a focus and identity to my life and career over the past four years.

I'm hardly Stephen King - but I am a writer these days. In fact, I can use that term to describe myself with a blithe confidence that I couldn't when Ian first took a few moments to write about my literary ambitions.

Okay, I tend to write articles now. And blog posts. And corporate tweets and Facebook messages, and radio ads, and website copy. I get paid to write a gazillion different things (none of which, admittedly, have anything to do with a redheaded rogue solving crimes.)

But I write. Every day. I get paid to do it and I do it (I like to think) very well.

I am a writer
- and Ian Hocking's brief, encouraging words were stones in the path that helped me reach that stage (a path hewn from the encouragement and support of all sorts of other people, most significantly my parents, family and wife.)

That in itself proves that Ian is a undeniably a great writer - because words are normally just ink on a page (or pixels on a screen.) It takes real talent to make them inspirational.

So I'm sorry you're not writing any more, Ian. Something tells me it's our loss.

1 comment:

Dr Ian Hocking said...

That's a lovely post, Roland. I've also been lucky enough have encouragement from other writers - I think it's what makes the art tick over. Very best of luck with your own writing. It sounds as though its coming along in leaps and bound!

Cheers from snowy England,