The Big Issue

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The Way I Work: Benjamin Myers

His words no longer stand thirty feet tall on London’s Oxford Road but they have a much bigger value to him now they’re in his novels…

When I was 10 years old I wanted to be either a boxer or long distance runner. I had stamina but I was short and weighed about six stone dripping wet, and had neither the constitution, talent or dedication to do either. I was sensitive too – I loved reading and writing. Poetry made more sense than the world. Like thousands of others, the image of Roald Dahl in his writing shed, a bar of chocolate to hand, his mind alive with possibility, was inspiring, and I attempted to write my first novel shortly afterwards.

Throughout my teenage years a love of music and literature became inextricably intertwined, and a burgeoning anxiety about the restrictiveness of the adult world made it clear there was only one career option I should pursue: journalism. I spent my entire A-level studies practically researching the effects of alcohol, drugs and the performing of hardcore punk rock on stages across the north of England, and acquired the grades that reflected this: a D in English literature, a D in classical studies and a N in economics. In a panic I simultaneously applied to every university in Britain, and wrote to every music, arts or lifestyle magazine in existence. Two replied: Luton University (now the University of Bedfordshire) gave me a place to study English literature and Melody Maker offered me work experience. I remain immensely grateful to both. 

So by the end of my teens I was both a student and music journalist, contributing weekly reviews to a publication that had shaped my world outlook. I was up and running, and at the age of 21 moved to London, where I lived in a squat for several years. One day I would sit in front of the oven to warm up and watch mice steal cheese from my traps, the next I would fly to Hollywood to interview pop stars…

 

Read the full piece here.

 

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