The Right to Write

I recently had one of those experiences that actually made me think – which differentiates it from those rather more frequent experiences which make me want to bang my head against something solid until I pass out.

Someone called and wanted to talk about writing … it came out that she’d been thinking about writing for a very long time … she’d been scribbling in secret for fear her nearest and dearest would laugh at her (which, for my money, puts them automatically in the asshat pile) … and she basically started to weep while telling me she didn’t feel she had the right to write.

I’m certainly twitchy about people calling themselves ‘writers’ when they haven’t done any writing, indeed haven’t done much but talk about writing … and I have noted in many of those I’ve come into contact with a direct and inverse correlation between a sense of entitlement to a best-seller and actual writing talent … but the right to write is another thing.

It’s never occurred to me that I don’t have the right to pick up a pen and write my thoughts or stories down. Whether they are ever read or sold or judged or whatever, it’s no one’s business whether I put them on paper or not.

There is no writing police to say “You! You over there with the funny ears and the nerdy-looking glasses! Yeah, you Poindexter, you are banned from writing. Didn’t you know that? There’s a license you need for that and you obviously don’t qualify. Now hand over your pens, Spotty.”

We all have the right to write, whether it’s for ourselves, our friends and family or the world at large. Never doubt that – you have the right to write. Maybe you won’t be published. Maybe no one but your Nanna and your cats will read/hear you read your work. But you’re entitled to write, to words.


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