Thursday, 2 April 2009

Know thyself

There’s a difference between knowing and feeling that you’re a writer and having it confirmed by someone else. The words ‘This is Bill Kirton. He’s a writer’ give me a wee buzz of pleasure each time I hear them and when I visit bookshops for talks or signings, there’s the same secret pride at seeing a notice with the words ‘Writer Bill Kirton’ on it somewhere.

But it’s not a boastful pride because I can take no real credit for being a writer. I was born with a set of genes that equipped me to put words together in certain ways and to enjoy doing so. OK, you need the discipline to make yourself sit and write, and stamina to persist with a novel, play, short story, poem. But that’s true of everyone who’s exercising a particular skill.

It was best summed up for me many years ago when I came out of a meeting with a friend, Vic. He was a graphics artist and, rather than doodling, he spent the meeting drawing perfect little pencil sketches of some of the people there. They were beautiful and I envied his talent. I said to him ‘Vic, I don’t know how you can do that’.

His answer?

‘Bill, I don’t know how you can’t’

So let’s be proud of being what we are, but let’s keep it in perspective.

Here endeth the lesson.


  1. There's also a wee buzz to be had from saying "My Dad's a writer" although there's always a bit of effort and no little skill involved in steering the conversation round to talking about ones parents' professions when you're 45. Worth the effort though.

  2. I just feel shamelessly proud when I say to people: "My friend is a writer." Then they say: "Really, and is he any good?" So I reply: "Oh yes, he is very good. But now I have to go, I'm reading his books.."

  3. OK, it's the beginning of a fan base - one daughter and one very close friend who designed my website. All I need now are maybe two or three million readers with lots of disposable income.

  4. You can add me to your list, Bill. I'm a writer-fan whose income is about to be disposed of by the government. Asi es la vida!