Why do I write? How do I write? How can I write?
All my life I have been asked all the above questions and many more by friends, family and sometimes strangers. Maybe they were seated next to me as I scribbled with a pen on paper. Sometimes it was my best guy friend who was annoyed by either the staccato report of my IBM Selectric and later the keys of my laptop he finally shamed me into purchasing after goading me for eight years. Yes, I said eight years. He begged me to finally give up the typewriter and jump into the twenty-first century by utilizing a computer. He could not understand what on earth I was waiting for. Shaking his head in frustration, he would wonder how I could insist on using a typewriter so classic (read “old”) that it didn’t even have correction tape. Barbaric, I know. To this day, I think he had the impression it would be quieter. It is, but marginally. He still stares at me across the room when I sit typing furiously. Then he giggles when I look up, see him watching and say “What???” I mean…your best friend is a writer. Deal with it.
My friend April and I had a conversation via text two days ago. I was getting my car serviced and took my MacBookPro with me to do some writing while I waited. I had mentioned to her that I had completed 1500 words with sourcing and one edit in a little over an hour. She is in school and is going through the dreaded “paper a day” phase. She simply could not fathom how I write for a living and still find the time to write when I am not at work. Or even more confounding is the fact that I write for “fun.”
What people who are not writers have a difficult time understanding is that writers HAVE to write. It’s not entirely a conscious choice. If I am happy, I write. If I am sad, I write. If I am lonely, stressed, anticipatory or simply attempting to work something out in my brain; I write. I’ve done it all my life. Doubtful that I could stop even if I wanted to. Surely, it doesn’t work that way.
To be completely transparent, once I got a full-time writing job, I did not write for pleasure for a while. By “a while,” I mean the better part of nearly two years. You can see the evidence of this if you check out the dates on my posts here on WP. I have been horribly remiss in posting. I am trying to rectify that. I am once again ready to share my brain-leakings on paper with the world. Scary? You bet.
Writing at the car dealership, I realized that not only had I missed writing outside of the work realm, but more importantly, I was stifling a huge part of who I am. Anyone who writes for any reason will agree that to progress you have to write. In other words, the more you write, the better you become. Clearly, when writing professionally one grows simply because we are constantly edited and critiqued. You would have to be a zombie not to take the advice and get the point when your editor points out a flaw. Or lots of flaws. There is no writer on earth who does not shudder when their “baby” is returned looking like it took a ride on the elevator in the Overlook Hotel. So marked with red it seems to be bleeding to death. So we write; we learn, we apply and we grow as writers.
Typically, those of us who write find it hard to grasp the fact that it does not come easily to everyone. Of course, we all have our talents, but it took me a long time to come to the realization that writing fell into the category of “talent.” Some even went so far as to call it a “gift.” All I know is that I love it. It is as necessary to me as breathing. I am never without a pen and paper no matter where I go. Yes, I have an iPhone and I can tap my thoughts into that as well, but some situations call for pen and paper. Anachronistic or not, sometimes I just have to write on paper. Besides, what if my phone battery croaks and I need something that’s on it? Having a backup is never a bad thing no matter the circumstance.
The conclusion that I have come to is that I have to write. I want to write. I live to write. Its far too easy to come home after a work day and vegetate. But life is so much richer, so much sweeter, if we forego television, Netflix and the like and get back to basics. Deciding to make a concerted effort to write more at home and read more is what I have chosen to do. It may work out fine; it may fail. We shall see. What is that famous saying? “The road to hell is paved with good intentions?” Nah, I prefer the Stephen King version. “The road to hell is paved with ADVERBS.” Yep, that’s the one.