Wednesday, 18 April 2012

The thing(s) about writing

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Being a writer is one of my most defining characteristics.  I feel like one of the lucky people in this life who were just born knowing what they should do, and writing is it for me.  It’s one reason why I think this blog has been fairly successful, because it’s coming from a place inside me where I am in my element (this is a fabulous post that really hit home the other day, about being in your element). 

Sometimes, usually when I’m driving in my car, I become so lost in these stories in my head that I switch to autopilot and, however many minutes or hours later, I find I’ve reached my destination and have no real memory of how I got there.  Dangerous? Maybe.  But my point is… the stories.  They’re in there!  The characters are already a part of me, even though they’re undeveloped. 

A while back I became obsessed with the idea of writing a novel, and I set out to do it.  I’m most inspired by music, so I created playlists that really fed my creativity, and I would spend hours “brainstorming.”  (by the way, brainstorming for a writer looks a lot like sleeping or meditation… or insanity.)  I had some ideas I liked—some characters I really wanted to develop further—and I was more excited than I’d been in a long time!  I was gonna do this!

But you know what I wound up writing of that novel?  The sex scene.  Like, just the sex scene.  But it was awesome. 

And when the rest of it never really happened, because I just didn’t quite feel ready yet, I realized something, and Henry David Thoreau says it best: 

How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live. 

I remember something Edd said to me, and it was what sort of got me thinking on this topic.  We were talking about writing as a profession and he said something like “I guess in order to be a writer you have to have life experiences.” 

And then I scratched my head and was all, “well, shit.”

Because I’m way more comfortable sitting in my pjs in my comfy house behind my nice, safe computer screen.  But I don’t know if that’s how it works, with writing.  Your writing will only ever be one dimensional, if you’re going about it that way.  In order to really convince your readers, you have to have felt things yourself, to an extent.  Not saying you have to be in an adulterous relationship to write about one or something, but do you need to have depth and dimension to you to write characters of depth and dimension? I think so.

I guess lately I’ve been challenging myself to experience things and feel things more fully, because as a writer, our experiences feed our craft.  But this might be uncomfortable for me!  You know… doing stuff.  Following other dreams.  Meeting people.  Taking life up on some of what it has to offer.  Even embracing the awkward and not-so-perfect scenarios, whatever they may be. 

I think, as a writer, one of the very best things you can do for your craft is to live.  And then, while you’re living, it’s also important to do a couple other things, like write more than just the sex scene…

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