Wednesday, 3 July 2013

"You're an expert..."

A mate of mine said the funniest thing a while back. He does consultation stuff. You know, fly around the world, speak to auditoriums filled with faces, come home again. We were in a pub and he said, ‘So, how do you do what you do?’

I had no way of answering that. Literally. So I hid behind my beer. Changed the subject. Hoped I wouldn’t have to answer. But my mate is frustratingly stubborn and asked again, but this time said, “Your problem, is that you’re an expert, but you don’t know how or why.’

I’ve been bothered by that statement ever since. An expert? What an idiotic notion. I am most certainly not an expert. But the point he was trying to make was this: I’m sufficiently competent at what I do that I have an agent, publishers, and a number of books. I have people who’ve read my stuff and liked it. I have been nominated for – and even won - awards. But an expert?

I’m always shy of knowing what to do when folk ask me to have a look at their writing, to provide advice, give them some pointers. I don’t feel qualified enough, I really don’t. I can read something and like it or not, but to go further almost seems insane.

I’ve been writing for years. I’m lucky enough now to not just be writing but to have stuff out there. That is an astonishing thing. Something that never ceases to amaze me. I guess I could’ve self-published, but the thought of doing that horrifies me – the help and guidance and support I’ve received from professionals, from folk who know words and make it their living to help people like me sound better? Well, that’s invaluable.

I read lots of posts online about how to write, how to do horror, how to scare, how to sort characterisation, how to pretty much do anything and everything. I really wouldn't know where to begin. Breaking down what I do and how I do it is, it seems, in an impossible task.

An expert… I just don’t think that I am. I love to write. I honestly, truly do. I have done various exciting things in my life, such as skydive and climb. Hell, I even drowned once (not on purpose). But all this I would put below the buzz of that moment when, despite the pain and the headaches and the panic and the running-away-now and the I-need-a-drink and the giving up, you’re alone and the writing is just rockin’ and rollin’.

My name is David Gatward. I write because I love it because I have to because I have no choice. I’m no expert. I honestly don’t really understand the process that well. But I do it. And I love it.

Expert? No.

Writer? Yes.

And that's enough, for now.