I don’t read books. I do know how to read and I have read some books. I don’t have anything against reading books as a concept. It’s just that I don’t ever choose to do it. I like to write.
I have always enjoyed writing. As a kid I used to write episodes of my favorite TV shows and send them to the BBC. When I’m depressed I find that writing brings me clarity and peace. The most enjoyable part of my job for me as an attorney is developing and writing the story that I will tell to the court.
So I don’t read books, but I really want to write a book. I am aware of the contradiction therein.
It was the same at school. I loved to write but I loathed reading assignments. Whenever I started reading a book my imagination interrupted, and I just wanted to write my own.
Despite my lack of a thirst for reading, I applied to study English Literature at Cambridge University when I was 17. I was invited to an interview at Pembroke College after they read a short story I had written. I felt pretty comfortable through the first general interview with an Admissions Tutor, and then I went to meet the Head Professor of English Literature at the College.
I vividly remember going into the Professor’s room and seeing books everywhere piled from the floor to the ceiling. There were books on every chair, on every table, on every shelf, on every book, and the air was thick with that musty, dusty, leathery smell of yellowing paper. I sat down on his old couch between two piles of books. He asked me about Shakespeare and the Bronte Sisters. He asked me what it was about those writers that I loved. I wont tell you what I said, yet. It didn’t go well. I wanted to talk about my ideas for writing, but all he wanted to talk about was how much I loved these books that I hadn’t really read.
Even before the interview was over I knew that a degree in English Literature was not for me. My back-up plan was to get a Law degree from Edinburgh instead, and that’s what I did. I never heard from Cambridge University again.
Some years later I decided to leave Scotland to go to Melbourne to write a screenplay. It took almost a year, and a lot of discipline, but I completed it. I was also highly motivated to finish it by the fact that everyone back home had been told, by me, that I was going to Australia to write a screenplay. The fear of being considered irresolute or unreliable is a strong motivator for me.
Now it’s been a while since I have written for myself. I spent the last decade in New York and Austin learning how to be a good attorney, a good husband, and a good father. My resolution for 2016 is to write creatively again. Like many would-be writers, the problem is that I struggle with finding the motivation, the time, and the discipline. I’m also out of practice.
But I have a plan. I expect it will take at least a year of writing regularly to get into writing shape. I should be able to find the time and develop the discipline by reducing the amount of time I spend playing FIFA 16 each week. To make these first steps easier, I’m not going to write fiction either. I’m going to write about myself. I’m going to write my autobiography. Credit to Matthew Young for the title.
I’ll reflect on that year in Australia, my time in Austin, the break-up of my first marriage, being an attorney in New York, the death of my brother, the birth of my daughter, and the love I have for my wife, my friends, my family and my country.
And to motivate me I will hereby commit to publishing something every week on Dear Scotland. Or at least 50 chapters of my life, just not in chronological order. That’s why I’m doing this.
I don’t believe artists or musicians who say they don’t care what anyone thinks of their work. But I do believe that you can’t be honest if you are concerned about how something might be received. So this will be honest.
Ultimately I’m going to write this book for me because I want to do it, and because I want to write it. I just probably wouldn’t read it. But then again, I don’t read books.