Hazel McHaffie

Dan Richards

The world of the writer

All authors feel like giving up, sometimes. In the last year, though, I have heard more authors than usual saying they are going to do it. Or, if not that, then saying that they want to work but can’t. For some, strain and anxiety have smothered the spark, not least the strain of seeing income – from festivals, school visits and theatrical work, say – disappear. … survival conditions are not often conducive to creativity.
For others, the issue is, or has been, isolation and lack of stimulation …
(Think libraries and archives shut … conversation difficult … travel almost impossible.)
I┬ásuspect though that what has most sapped authors’ creativity has been a lurking sense of triviality and irrelevance … It can be hard to believe that what you are doing matters when the world, a country or your family is in a life-endangering crisis.

So said James Connachie, Editor of the Society of Authors’ journal, The Author, writing in Summer 2021. And comments on the effect of the pandemic have bobbed up repeatedly throughout the last year. It has had a major effect on writers, including me. Nonetheless, there is far more to feel positive about in our lives and reach, and that too has been a recurrent theme in the journal.

None of us, however modest our sales, should forget how fortunate we are, to possess a power of self-expression that is denied to all but a minute fraction of the human race. (Max Hastings, Summer 2021)

We all have the power in our actions to move the dial towards the society we would wish to build. Hope lives and dies in the hands of individuals and the choices we make, and it requires all of us to venture beyond our silos of certainty. (Sarfraz Manzoor, Autumn 2021)

Isn’t that the job of writers and artists after all? To explore, reimagine and re-present the world in all its strangeness and banality? (Dan Richards, Winter 2021)

It is reading that refuels and restores us. You can’t pour out words without restocking the tanks. Sentences in, sentences (different ones, hopefully better, usually not) out. The cycle can’t be broken. (Lucy Mangan, Spring 2022)

The world of the career writer is a rarefied one, crazy, discombobulating at times, but I am enormously grateful for the beautifully crafted prose which consummate masters of our trade contribute to our very own magazine. Thank you for another year of excellent thought-provoking articles and all the encouragement to persevere.


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