Stories are everything. They’re an evolutionary necessity that is hardwired into our species. Our ancestors’ ability to tell the tale of how Uncle Frank was eaten by a sabre toothed tiger goes a long way to explaining why we’re all here today.
For me, telling stories is an urge: an urge to examine the human condition, to explore ideas and to bask in the sheer joy of playing with language – of crafting, of moulding, of creating something lasting and beautiful.
I know I’m a cliché: but within most clichés lurks a deeper truth. I love to write and when I’m not in a place where I can write, I am a frustrated writer: that stock character; that trope of countless bad novels. It’s the type of frustration that consumes you, obsesses you, keeps you awake at night, and fills you with tears when you’ve had a few too many glasses of wine on a night out with an old friend in Wolverhampton.
I’ve written fiction my entire life – all of it bad. But when my son was born three years ago, something clicked. Perhaps it was that sunburst of joy I felt when I held him in my arms for the first time that made me realise that I’d focused for too long on securing and maintaining the backup plan instead of this drive to create.
To pay my bills I work as a journalist. I’ve met interesting and powerful people: the Prime Minister, the Chancellor, Boris. I’ve listened to the stories of dying kids, drag queen wrestlers, reformed addicts, artists, writers, bishops and liars. I’ve sat in courtrooms, council chambers and inquests. I’ve seen so many different sides of so many different people, their passions, their schemes, their pettiness and selflessness. Journalism has been an education in the human condition. A rich and vivid mosaic of stories: all valid, all unique, all fantastic in their own way.