x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

For a writer, joy is its own reward

For a lot of creatives, the prize of success is irrelevant.

One of the best aspects of being an arts reporter is that you are often privy to people's personal space.

No, I am not referring to hiding in someone's back garden with a camera.

I am talking about that creative realm where inspiration and experience collide to create something new.

Listening to an artist's recollection of how they create their works is to me the best part of the gig.

It is because I often in the past dreamt of penning my own blockbuster novels, and by hanging around these successful writers I secretly hoped their creative sparkle would fall on me.

I remember writing my first short stories in high school when I was 12. To be honest, I wrote them as they were the easier option than a research-heavy essay. (And for this I must apologise to my English teacher Mr McCardle, who had to read my output.)

In one story I wrote of two haggard detectives who must catch a killer. In a dizzying plot twist, I wrote of how a videotape mysteriously appeared in one of the detective's houses.

The detective plays the video showing that his partner was, in fact, the killer. What does our hero do? In my 12-year-old world he didn't arrest him, he shot him instead and concluded with the refrain: The killer must get killed.

Grade? D

In what I thought at the time was one of the most backhanded compliments of all time, Mr McCardle praised my "enthusiasm".

That same year, I penned another tale of a world-weary policeman who must solve a macabre killing in which a lion tamer's whip was the murder weapon.

I spent an inordinate amount of space detailing the gruesome nature of the killing, as I wanted to be "more expressive" as Mr McCardle advised.

Grade? Well, all that gory expression didn't allow me to hand it in on time, so I entered it in the school-wide creative-writing competition instead.

I would like to think I won the $20 (Dh73) voucher because my blood-splattered tale had some literary merit, but it was more down to the fact that there were virtually no entries in the competition and since some teachers prize effort over quality, I scooped the prize because I wrote the most pages.

But now, after dozens of interviews with successful authors and artists, one message shines through clearly: for a lot of these creatives, the prize of success is irrelevant. It is the joy of the work that makes all the creative agony worthwhile. They speak of the enthusiasm that Mr McCardle somehow saw in my bullet-ridden plots.

In that respect, at least, I was on the right track.

 

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