I've been having some interesting conversations recently with my boys, teen and tween, about the merits of Literacy. They are both Maths boys, and every so often ask, "Why do we spend so long on learning how to write? I am going to be a games designer/programmer/something techie that hasn't been invented yet - so why bother?"
English teachers must get this all the time. I bet they've got a pithy, funny, one-line answer stored up to shut up the clever dicks. Something like, "So you can write to Father Christmas asking him for lego Batman every year." BOOM! or "So that you can fill out your P45 when you're sacked from MacDonalds" PAZOW!
So far I've failed to give a pithy answer. The best I can come up with is - imagine a world with no writing. With no books. No emails. No movies (no scripts, see). No newspapers. Learning at schools would change completely. How would you sign up for anything? Our road signs would all change. You couldn't program computers. And computers run almost everything.
Teen thought about this for a while and said, "So almost everything would go if you didn't have writing."
I've always loved writing. I'm not particularly good at it (fishing, obvs) but I find that it brings order to my fractured mind. This blog has that effect. My scattiness seems less so when I'm writing; I feel a bit like Dumbledore when he draws out his memories with his wand and puts them in the bird feeder - sorry, memory pool. Except that with me, it's pulling jumbled up thoughts out of my head and ordering them (ish) onto a page.
I've come to a bit of a crossroads with the blog, as I've been offered (and taken) a commercial agreement, a partnership of sorts. This is really lovely, and I'm over the moon, and of course hope that this is going to enable me to buy that Greek Island that I've lusted after for all these years.
Obviously, I'll be lucky if it buys me a Twix.
I have two scenarios. Scenario 1: My blog suddenly starts getting thousands of hits and yes! Some people even leave comments. They all click through on whatever sparkling ad is on my page (probably Everest windows, or Tampax, or something like). My commercial partner spots that things are hunky dorey, and asks me to write a few one-off articles which, of course, are received brilliantly - particularly by The Guardian (or more likely, Take a Break magazine). Whoever it is, they pay me a huge up-front fee to do...well, not much at all, because they are so impressed with me, they're just happy to have me around.
And I buy a bigger house that we can all fit in properly with windows that don't leak. And I give up my day job.
Scenario 2: I earn enough to buy me a Twix.
So - why write? Not, in fact, to earn money. But to sort out the sh*t in my head, to try to trigger that creative brain cell into some sort of action, to get feedback from other writers.
And in fact, to keep the world going round.