Someone asked me yesterday what it was like to be a writer. Shite, I replied without pause for breath. Still, there is more to it than that. I put too much store in the fact I am a ‘poet’, but it’s an important part of the way I think about myself. Writers, of my type at least, have a personality steeped in unreasonable optimism and a hugely inflated belief in the quality of their work but they must also find writing irresistible. Only that way can the unremitting disappointment and humiliation be tolerated.. Gerry Cambridge, a man I count as an excellent poet and friend, said as much recently. A born writer he said, sort of, overcomes little difficulties like lack of publication/exposure/recognition by the unceasing desire to write. This, like a lot of things Gerry says, seems to me fundamentally true.
There are always little signs of encouragement that keep you going, too. Last week a poem accepted for ‘The Rialto’, this week a request for a poem for Luath’s upcoming Anthology ‘100 Favourite Scottish football poems’. The poem in question there is ‘Anglophobia’ which Gavin Hastings read out to the Scottish rugby team on the day of their World Cup semi-final against England in 1991. They lost, of course, Hastings himself missing a sitter of a penalty right in front of the posts which would have drawn the game. Possibly he was troubled about the poem's internal tensions.