How did I end up doing what I am doing now, and what is that precisely?
I have always thought of myself as someone who gets pleasure out of writing (and enjoyment out of reading what others have written). As a very small child my tiny amount of weekly pocket money would relentlessly be spent on a cheap jotting pad from the counter at Woolworths. At school I was fortunate to find writing a relatively comfortable experience. At work I never saw the paperwork as unremitting bureaucracy. Now I am shifting from full-time paid employment to being otherwise fully occupied it seems natural that a large proportion of that retiring time might be used to get more writing done.
Writing has been tied into how I have seen myself. It has been a part of my identity and I want to strengthen that. It has created opportunities for me to go to events, to meet a variety of people, to get a certain amount of recognition and I see that continuing.
Writing has been too much a part of who I am to worry about whether or not there is an income to be made from it. If in the near future it begins to generate an additional income stream then that is a welcome thing but it is not my motivation for writing. I write because I want to. More than that, I write because I need to. There is an inner drive that keeps me writing: I can’t NOT write. It just wouldn’t be me. If I were deprived of pen, paper and keyboard I would simply write in my head.
To say to myself: ‘I am a writer’ is a key part of all of this (rather than I am a city council officer, I am a reader, I am a pensioner, I am a parent/grandparent, or any of the other bits that have been/still are fragments of me). The thing that has changed over the years is the sense of what being a writer might mean. What kind of writer? For what purposes? Hadn’t I always wanted to produce a proper book, via a proper publisher, available in all proper bookshops? Of course I did – Wasn’t I going to be a proper writer!
Hang on though: I already thought of myself as a writer of sorts, and I was paid to write stuff. It was just that it was within a tight framework of writing committee reports, development plans, funding proposals, review reports and so on. It wasn’t fiction (Well mostly not ….) but each piece of writing was a work of art in its own way.
The ‘real’ fiction, and the poetry, and the stuff for no reason other than I was driven to write was done in snatched time, for pure pleasure and for the intellectual exercise.
I had an e-reader but saw that as something for reading things on, not something I might create content for. I downloaded War and Peace. I downloaded Ulysses. I downloaded a host of free Great and Noble literature. I have even read some of it.
Two years ago I was at a point of transition away from formal full-time employment and was sketching the outline of the next Five Year Plan for my life ( … I’m that sort of person …) within a broad set of intentions to 2025 (… really that sort of person…). This set out some lines of thought that can be shared with you:
A strong part of me would be Geoff Bateson: The Writer (Think of it as the brand if you must). This Geoff Bateson would use much of the released non-work time to go back to boosting the variety and volume of writing I engaged myself in. Why? Because I couldn’t but do otherwise; because it was what I wanted to do; because it was something I could do.
Would I seek a fortune from writing? Would I seek fame and glory? I don’t think so.Partly because I am not a Fame and Glory sort of person. Partly because writing rarely sparks off a huge income. Partly because my plan had a quieter life mapped out rather than a busier, fussier life of events/readings. Even if I did aspire to riches, would that be through turning out a series of formula-written novels (not my style, even if I were competent) or would I wait until I had the perfectly crafted novel ready to take the world by storm (again not my style – I wanted to cover a broad set of different kinds of writing quickly).
Having thought through what kind of writing I wanted to do, how often, and why – I needed to sort out the how. A couple of years before, the choices were limited. Now the choices were wider. Ebooks were an attractive option. This was for a number of reasons: economics, speed, control, flexibility… The way forward clarified as:
- Writing as I wanted; as much as I wanted; to a timetable that suited me
- Pursuing e-formats rather than traditional print routes
- Using writing as a motivator to learn all about the social media things I had heard about but so far avoided
- Maintaining a broad range of styles of writing, and writing for a variety of reasons
- Keeping some writing just for myself; making a lot of writing freely available to anyone interested enough to read it; having a limited set of writings that may provide sufficient income to enable me to do a few things that might spark off more writing