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A huge part of what I've discovered from reading about writing (yep, I'm still doing that instead of actually writing...) is that, to be a good writer, it's absolutely necessary to be interested in everything. Which is interesting, because I think that's kind of what it means to be a good journalist too - and I trained as a journalist when I left college. Ever the practical teenager (yes, they do exist), I triumphantly told my A-level history tutor that I didn't need to go to university to become a journalist, it would take far too long and I just wanted to get on with it. So I did. I worked in local newspapers for two manic, eye-opening, challenging, stressful and occasionally fantastic years. My first editor gave me the confidence to write - in my interview I told him I didn't want to work in newspapers at all, that I just wanted experience so I could go off and write for the NME. Fortunately for me, he'd had the same idea when he became a journalist (although the fact that he was still in local newspapers escaped me at the time) so he took me under his wing and duly became my mentor. I still want his approval for everything I do, yet I hardly ever speak to him. It's amazing what influence the right person at the right time can have on your life...
But I found that the more I wrote news, the less headspace I had for everything else.
Now I work part-time in radio and the main thing I focus on is music local to my radio station. So all the rest of the time I have headspace for the 'Everything' needed to feed the urge to write.
Today it was Molly Parkin on Radio 4's Desert Island Discs - oh my, if that isn't a novel waiting to written, a film waiting to happen...Or several films. Or a TV series even! Or a three-part novel like Roddy Doyle's fantastic trilogy about Henry Smart. I loved her crackly voice, coarse with years of drinking and fast living, her way of speaking so directly, mincing no words, fearing no foe. She wrote many novels, and published a memoir about being abused by her father - but she never once sounded preachy or needy - just a woman, making her mistakes in public, turning them into art and living out a dream world of her own making because, well, because she could. Although I don't necessarily agree with all of her morals, her spirit is unequivocally the inspiartional kind us writers search for. She's my new heroine...although I haven't started writing the last one yet...more of that in another post.
For today, Molly Parkin: I salute you! Listen for yourself and you'll see what I mean...
Molly Parkin on Radio 4's Desert Island Discs