Virginia Woolf was supposed to have said that writing was like sex. First she did it for love, then she did it for friends and now she did it for money.
That’s quite an answer to give when anyone asks what I am going to do when my book is finished. Imagine faces if I said that I didn’t know but that writing was like sex, something I couldn’t give up.
As it is, the question of what to do next thrills and frightens me in equal parts. What will I do next.
The idea of writing a book about youth hostels occurred to me long ago, whilst I was working full time for YHA. I realised that no one had really updated Oliver Coburn’s classic history of youth hostels in England and Wales, the Youth Hostel Story.
I held on to the idea for a long time but as the time when I was due to finish work with YHA grew closer, I began to think about it more and more. I began to tell other people that I was going to do it when I finished full time work. I was going to write a book about youth hostels and the people and ideas behind them.
Nearly three years ago, I finished work and began the research, the writing and the work that led to Open to All.
Now the work of writing is finished, I start to think about the future. What next? Is there another book about youth hostels? Is there another book I want to write? Or maybe it’s time to stop and move on. I’ve written the book I set out to write so I can leave writing behind.
I could stop writing but I won’t. I suspect I cant stop. I’ve always written and there were many things that had to be left out from the book, people like Jack Catchpool and Herbert Gatliff, and I never had time to explore how youth hostels themselves had changed over time.
There are plenty of books I could write and lots of time to think about them. In short I can’t resist writing another book.
But it’s not because writing is like sex. It’s because I am a nomad. I keep being drawn back to the old places and I keep going back to the same ground and finding new ways of seeing it. I’ll write another book but what it will be about, I’m not quite sure.
And if you wondered, Virginia Woolf never said that writing was like sex. It’s one of those quotes that pop up on the internet and get currency from repetition. Anyone who knew about Virginia Woolf would know that it simply could not be said by her.
If you’re interested in finding out more about the quote, the Quote Investigator has it covered here.