Since I've had a little time to consider both enquiries, the fear has passed, and I feel that it's safe to share a thought or two with you on these topics.
'What kind of writer are you?'
Well now, my instinctive, jokey-but-uncomfortable-with-the-thought-that-it-may-be-true response to this was: not a very good one. It's the kind of answer which would be crushing if nobody in the room laughed, mostly because I have a permanent, niggling worry that it IS the truth. If that's the case, then I'd like to improve, but I'm not about to devote my life to that end (any writing purists who torture themselves by reading this blog have permission to swoon now - oh, you have already...). We shall see if my writing gets better, shan't we? On that note, I have recently been enjoying the delights of a Kindle e-reader, and the almost effortless access to reading material that it affords. I've immersed myself in a number of books lately (reading a lot more than I have done in quite some time), and so with a variety of styles as a background, I decided to re-read 'Signs of (a) Life' for a critical comparison and as an exercise in reflection and self-development. I'm happy to be able to say that I've been pleasantly surprised by the expedition into a book that is almost exactly one year old.
So, flippant answers aside, what kind of writer am I? The strangest thing about this question is that I had, mere hours earlier, had a similar conversation with my beautiful and extremely intelligent wife. The characterization of my writing that I came up with then was 'Conversational'. I try - and for some writers I know that this is akin to wanting to catch Herpes - to write in a way that implies a conversation - a normal conversation - between myself and one reader. I've concentrated upon memoirs for the last two years, and so I've been trying to tell my true stories as if to a friend; the idea being that for much of the time, there is a smile on my face.
I'm a lazy (although I prefer the much more disingenuous term 'relaxed') writer. I have no set schedule - I have a busy enough life without trying to organize it around the whims of creativity. I therefore write when I can or want to, which may mean either when I have the time, or when my mind is in an appropriate state to allow me to do so.
I'm a rebellious writer. You may already have noticed this. I have little or no time for arrogance in the writing community. One day (after I have invented the 'Like Liam's Books' ray machine), I will line up all the smug, know-it-all bastards who have ever posted about what we MUST do to be as successful as them, and editors who take the view that the author is a person to be moulded into their personal version of a proper writer. I shall line them up against a wall and have a troupe of Gorillas throw poo at them. That'll teach them to be bossy with me.
I'm a niche writer. I write for a very, very tiny market - namely, my descendants. First and foremost, my attitude is that when I'm working on a memoir I'm writing to one of my kids about my life. My hope is that whatever I commit to print will be a window into this life; the kind of window that I have never had into my ancestor's lives.
I'm an explorer. When I'm writing fiction (which takes up less of my time, but is something I want to start doing more of, especially when I've come to the end of what I feel to be a memoir trilogy), I'm treading upon new ground. I'm stepping nervously into a jungle of ideas and dark, unknown spaces, in the hope that something enjoyable will result from it. As a child I used to wade into these forests of thoughts and imaginings, but age, tempering my recklessness with the memory of those shadowy places, has increasingly restrained me. One day I hope to once again slash my way into the jungle with a virtual machete, but for now I make do with a tooth pick.
'What is your favourite thing about writing?'
I have a little problem answering this question without my response being tainted by the experience I've had of reading so many comments from writers who feel moved to tell me (and the rest of the planet) how difficult it all is. You know: the ones I bitch about from time to time...
It's perhaps not surprising, then, that my favourite thing about writing (so far) has been how easy it has been. Now - wait a moment, before (if you're an angst-ridden writer, especially) you puff out your cheeks, bluster a little and start saying things like "Outrageous!", "Well, upon my soul!", "The unbelievable arrogance of it!" or even "The lucky bastard!", please allow me to explain what I mean. I don't find writing particularly easy, given that what I would like to do is to write as well as I can. I hope that will change as I continue to practice and try to improve how I express my thoughts, but at the moment much of what I write I feel dissatisfied with. The most difficult part of that can be that I don't always clearly understand exactly what I'm unhappy with...but that's really not a huge burden to be carrying around.
To me, writing isn't difficult. Physical labour in stifling heat is difficult (I avoid it, although I could, in an emergency, be pushed to help build a working aeroplane from the wreckage of another which has crashed in the desert, stranding me and my fellow passengers and leaving us with the stark choice of build or die...). Being a single parent is difficult. Living with a disability or chronic illness is bloody difficult, as I remind myself whenever I sit in my car and watch some unfortunate soul struggle across the road in front of me. By comparison to any of those things, writing is simple. By comparison, writing is easy - it's something that I can sit down and get on with (even if that means staring at the screen, inwardly cursing).
I may not be able to write very well (I'll throw in an optimistic 'yet', here), but the act of writing is easy to achieve, and that makes it the easiest hobby that I've ever had. Playing rugby, for example, was a lot less straightforward, despite the fact that I loved every second of it. There was the kit to prepare, the booking time off work when possible, the travel to the games, keeping reasonably fit, being injured and all that malarkey. Now, to indulge myself, I simply have to find my way to the office, park my generous derriere upon the chair and have at it.
It would probably be a lot less satisfying, of course, if I were relying on my writing to pay the bills. But I'm not. This is my world and my life, and this is my writing journey, whether it be a cul-de-sac or an avenue to something even more fulfilling. Who knows what the future will be like (although I'm pretty sure that hover-cars and personal jet packs will never really be commercial successes)?