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Why I write…

Author and word fanatic, Russ Litten, is writer-in-residence at education charity First Story. Here, he defines his love affair with his craft

What does writing mean to me? Everything, really. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love reading and telling stories. From a very young age, I was devouring comics about spacemen and dinosaurs, and filling exercise books with my own fantastic felt-tipped worlds. Gradually, the speech bubbles above my characters’ heads became bigger, pushing the drawings out of the frame. Fiction became my favourite playground. I had a Christmas story published in the local paper as part of a primary school competition and, ever since then, it’s always been there; this unshakeable habit. I realised long ago that my state of mind deteriorates if I don’t write almost every day. Writing is self-therapy. Capturing an emotion in words makes it feel more real. Of course, it’s not all heavy mind soup. Writing, for me, is also pure evasion, a handy escape hatch from the appalling horror show that is much of the modern world. A blank sheet of paper is another universe waiting to happen. It’s always a relief to go there. I write every day, so it makes sense to try and earn a living out of it. Apart from books and commercial writing, I’ve been blessed to work with First Story, the Writers in Prison Network and Arvon, whose creative writing workshops allow people to explore the redemptive wonders of the written word.

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