“Good prose is like a windowpane.”
Why I write
I began to write in my early twenties. The things I wrote back then were produced on a type-writer, were never published and are mostly long since lost in house-moves, travels and changes of circumstance. An essay on D H Lawrence comes to mind; another on Nietzsche.
Around the same time, I became intensely politicised by socialist ideas (and friends) and by what I observed and experienced of the world; writing becoming a natural extension of that turn in life. Indeed, it was my activism that afforded me the opportunity to publish at all initially. For that, I am grateful.
I’ve only reflected recently on why writing became important to me. It has made me go back to George Orwell’s characteristically honest account of the writer’s motives in Why I Write (1946). He suggested there are four motivations: sheer egoism; aesthetic enthusiasm; historical impulse; and political purpose. In different measures, I’d have to own each of those.
There was something else for me however: understanding. It has always been an idiosyncrasy of mine that until I have expressed an idea outwardly, testing it by its echo, I feel I may not have really grasped it at all. So, reading about something never seemed quite enough. Whenever a topic has caught my attention, and when life has allowed, I have absorbed myself in it, reading everything I can get my hands on - and then written about it. Some of those writings have come into the light of day, at first through small political publishers; and later, through journals of one kind or another.
The home-bound life enforced by the Covid lock-downs found me looking back at some of my writing for the first time in very many years. The themes are obvious: working class history; Marxism; liberation; socialist argument; etc. Since becoming a professional researcher, other interests have come to the fore: educational theory, research technique, and social investigation.
So, I finally decided to put these efforts in one place; and here they are. If you find any of them useful or interesting, I’ll be really pleased. Even better, if you think we have shared passions, and would like to talk, debate, or just touch-base about them, don’t hesitate to contact me.
After all, who knows what projects, collaborations and even friendships that could lead to?