A personal essay based on my musings of my own process
| I am a writer. I put pen to paper every day and create fantastic stories that I hope people will want to read someday. I've been doing this since I was 12 years old. I never made anything else of myself because I was determined to be an author with a best seller or two sometime. I took every English class I could growing up and I aced them all.
Of course I was realistic as well. Not everyone can grow up to be Anne Rice or Stephen King. I pictured myself as that English teacher with the Great American Novel waiting patiently in her desk drawer.
So far none of that has happened. On to the present.
I wrote the other day and entered it in a contest. What happened? The same thing that always happens. Nothing. I find it hard to come up with a reason why I still write. For over 40 years I've been caught in this vicious cycle. Why do I do it?
There have been several times I have tried to stop writing. I packed up all my writing and put it in storage somewhere. There is no destroying it, of course. That would be like cutting off my hand - which is what I would have to do to totally quit. I tell myself someone in the future will find it and be able to make sense of it all. Until then it can collect dust. I stumble through my days trying to avoid studying people for character ideas or taking apart the plot of the movie of the week. I find myself writing lists for groceries and scribbling ideas for a story about shopping in the margin.
After a length of time - anywhere from a week to a couple of months - I start hearing that voice. It is that muse/critic/editor/cheerleader/inspiration voice all artists have. I call mine Larry after the former fiction columnist for Writer's Digest magazine, Lawrence Block. He will start in with "Don't you want to know what happens next?" "I got this great idea for the next scene." "You know, that was a really good idea. Lets play with it some more."
Just to shut Larry up I pull everything out of storage "just to browse through it a minute". Next thing I know I'm scribbling notes in margins and searching down notebooks to start a new draft of a novel or short story collection.
Oh, and that length of time that I tried not to write? It was pure torture. I spent my time between sleeping and trying not to remember my dreams to watching drivel on TV and convincing myself I can't write much better than that.
Why do I write? I have come to only one conclusion. I write because I can't not write. There are thousands of ideas constantly swimming in my head begging to be put down on paper and edited and tweaked into something worth sending to some contest or whatever comes up.
I write because I HAVE to.