Hello world

Traditionally, ‘hello world’ is the phrase computer programmers use as test output. Things are working properly if they run their program and the words appear. If they don’t then it’s back to the keyboard, and searching through lines and lines of code to fix the thing(s) that went wrong.

But if the words do appear, then there is a feeling of relief, of accomplishment, of breakthrough. This is exactly how I feel when I’ve written. ‘There. I did it. I feel better now.’ This is not how I feel when I’m writing. That’s hardly ever good at all. And the feeling I have before I sit down to write? Worst of all. Terrible.

So why do it? Because writing is my computer program. It’s how I say hello to the world, how I try to untangle the mess of feelings and ideas I have inside my mind, and reach out to find the others like me. It’s true that there are other ways of doing it – you can paint, or dance, or act, or make sculptures, or whittle – but I think you are usually only given a passion for one of these things.

I write. Maybe you do too. Everything else is just distraction.


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