Writer DNA: Blood, sweat, nails and hair


The better my writing goes, the more of myself I leave behind. That is true for the story, where the stronger the impact of the piece, the more likely it is that I have imbued it with some authentic emotion, some recognisable evidence of  common humanity, my version of it. It is also true of my surroundings. As every writer will know, a period of sustained writing, or sustained presence in the company of a story will result in the accumulation of copious debris on nearby surfaces, not least of which debris is the evidence of the writer’s own DNA.

A warning to the squeamish, what follows may not be pretty..

We begin fairly innocuously. We have a desk strewn with a pile of books. Jurgen Wolff’s  ‘Your Writing Coach’, The Penguin English Diction and The Penguin Dictionary of English Idioms, The Creative Writing Coursebook – a great book from staff at the renowned East Anglia Creative Writing MA. A Cottage Garden Day Book (empty – how can I fill in those white spaces beside the lovely pictures?). Several A4 notebooks in different colours, two of which are the repositories of my ideas at any time of the day or night and The Book of Joy, a personal journal from about 20 years ago, prose, poetry, musings on sorrow and joy, nature, connectedness, friendship and love. (Everything then!) Oh and the DK book of Insects (was trying to identify a beetle for a writer friend, after a twitter plea).

Then it begins to get grittier. Around the room we have a scattering of paperclips and paperclip necklaces (DNA chains?).  On the table are cups of old and dusty water, there are tissues,(urghh)  a crumbled Galaxy wrapping, two pairs of socks, two pairs of shoes and a pair of slippers. Remember, these are all the props that have kept me going, this is the evidence of my toil.

Finally (along with the tissues) we have the rest of the bodily evidence, the odd torn off fingernail and a carpet full of hair, because that is my vice, combing my hair through with my fingers while thinking and letting it drop to the floor. I told you it wouldn’t be pretty.

Gene Fowler has said ‘Writing is easy. All you do is stare at a blank piece of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.’

It’s early days but there beginning to be evidence of a creativity gene that got humans on the track of artistic expression.  With all the blood, sweat and other body parts around here, there’s plenty of writer DNA to investigate. Failing that you can always read my stories.

What evidence do you leave of your Writer DNA? Spill your dark secrets. I would love to hear your comments.