The few friends of mine who are writers have always warned me against writing: "It's boring, it's lonely and it's hard," one told me. "Why the hell would anyone with anything better to do choose it as an occupation?"I've always loved books and reading – along with art, they were my refuge as a kid – but I've been disinclined to write much myself, apart from this blog, because most poets, playwrights and novelists I've come across at arts festivals and conferences have been dull, self-important types who thought that just because they could string a few words together, they were a lot smarter than they really were. Their editors were even worse.The sole exception was a woman I met a few months ago, the editorial head of a successful, independent Australian publisher. She suggested I tackle the outline and a couple of chapters of a non-fiction book I had in mind. After a lot of hemming-and-hawing (and doodling random notes on the back of paper napkins), I locked myself away for a couple of weeks to try to come up with something readable. The process has been enjoyable compared to painting. Maybe because my ambitions as a writer are very modest ('modest' and 'writer' are, in my experience, a contradiction in terms), my self-esteem hasn't been riding on the outcome. I wish I could say the same about my art.