Monday, November 5, 2012

Why We Write

           Writing is not a hobby.  If you are afflicted with this strange condition, you would describe it as an "urgency", some  unfathomable drive in the pit of your stomach that must be set free through putting your thoughts on paper.  If you will pardon the comparison, it's much like my Christian beliefs.  You can't see it, you can't touch it, but you know it's there.
            I tried to quit once.  After years of pounding my fists on the doors of New York brick-and-mortar publishing houses, I put everything I'd written in a box and stored it in the attic.  I returned to my second favorite pastime...reading.  This pursuit was not as successful in making me happy as I hoped, but I just kept reading. 
           Then something happened.  I picked up a book by Fern Michaels.  She's been around for a long, long time, but still offers her fans a good read with a touch of mystery and a touch of romance.  Sadly, I cannot recall the title, but the content forever changed my life.
             Without getting into the plot details or ending of the story, I raced upstairs to the attic and brought out all those finished and partially finished stories I had written.  My first intent was to finish all of my books and re-hide them with the quiet prayer that some stranger would find them fifty, hundred years in the future and I could be published after my death.  I would receive all sorts of awards posthumously.
              So, with ten separate novels in various stages of development, I dug in and finished them all.  Self-published on, and also published them on Kindle and Nook.
             During this time, I realized that I'm happier when I'm writing.  The actual process of putting words on paper, ending a story with a satisfying conclusion seemed to release endorphins into my bloodstream.  What a revelation.   When I finish a novel, I feel like I can tackle the world.     
             This was not a swift journey, nor was it smooth sailing.  I never went to college, I was never a stellar student in high school, but through trial and error, I learned the craft....punctuation, grammar, vocabulary, character development and plotting.  More importantly, I learned the art of self-editing.  When I finish a story, I print out a rough draft.  Somehow, on this printed page, I'm able to see passed emotions, passed the plot, to see words, sentence structure.  My errors seem to jump out at me. Over the years, the errors have decreased in numbers.
              So, if you have something churning in the pit of your stomach, there is a cure.  Write.  Then write some more.  Write when you think you don't have time.  Write even when you think you don't want to.  Write.
             As the sneaker-maker says, "Just do it".

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