Saturday, 25 May 2013
Twenty Years a Writer! by Malachy Doyle
I do things for ten years, and then I get bored.
I was a wee fella for ten years...
And then I decided it'd be a whole lot more fun to be a teenager, and let my hair go all shaggy, and buy a Lambretta...
But ten years of zits and raging hormones is quite enough for any human being, so at the age of twenty, I decided to do all those grown-up things, like getting wed and working in advertising...
I'm not bored of being married yet, but ten years in advertising is quite enough for any sane individual, so at the age of thirty I chucked it all in for the 'good life' in Wales, raising children, runner beans and pigs. Oh, and working as a care assistant in a residential school for young people with special needs.
(That's our own children in the photo, by the way, all dressed up for Saint David's Day.)
But, much as I admire people who can do such work for ever, it has a habit of grinding you down.
So after ten years, in 1993 - 20 years ago today, roughly - I found myself enrolling on a creative writing evening class in Ysgol Bro Ddyfi, Machynlleth, run by a very nice young lady called Zoe.
I was forty by then, three times bored. Among other things, Zoe got us writing about our childhood memories. I did a little piece about my mother's button box. It had been my job to fetch it down from the high shelf above the stove when my Dad wanted to play poker. I didn't care how badly I lost, as long as I could keep that little pink rabbit - half a century later, I've still got it.
And there was something about sinking into those memories. Something about dwelling in the headspace of that young Malachy, aged 4 and 5 and 6 and 7... About looking at the world through his eyes. Something about writing...
This is what I want to do, I thought. This is what I HAVE to do.
So I did. I did it for ten years, and forty books. And guess what? I didn't get bored.
So I broke the habit of a lifetime. I did it for another ten years. Another sixty books. And guess what?