Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Mysteries of Writing

How Writing Works

   I'd like to tell you that I understand the process of writing, but I don't. It's still a mystery to me how the ideas come, why I become so obsessed with make-believe people and circumstances, and why it's so imperative that I write these stories down for others to read.

  All I know is that I was born this way. When I was unable to read, I wanted to be read to and I wanted picture books to look at and coloring books to color. Books. Books. Books. I wanted them! Then I learned to write and read and that unlocked something in me. Stories swam in my head. Characters crowded my brain. Feelings bombarded my heart. I acted out movies and TV shows in my bedroom, playing all the characters. Then I began to write original stories. Early on, I loved romances and my earliest attempts at writing always had a romance at the heart of it.

  Years later, I am compelled to sit and write. I fret about characters I've created and feel their pain, their anguish, their joys, and their fears. When my writing is flowing, I'm totally "gone." Hours slip by and I have no concept of time or space. Only when my bladder becomes painful do I realize that I have been sitting for way, way too long. When the writing is going well, I don't even get hungry. The only call I answer is the bathroom one.

  Every writer is asked, "Where to you get your ideas?" and I've never heard a good answer to that because we simply don't know. It's like asking someone, "How did you learn to breathe?" Uh. Nobody actually taught me how to breathe . . . it just happened. Nothing put these ideas in my head. They just happened. I can't turn them off any more than I could decide not to breathe.
 Not all of the ideas make it to the page. Some fizzle out. Others bloom into big, spectaular displays. Some days I write pages and pages of great stuff. Other days I write pages and pages of stuff that needs a lot of editing, rewriting, and rethinking. But every day I write, I feel better for doing it. I suppose it's like people who are compelled to hit the gym. Sometimes it's a joy and sometimes it's an ordeal. But they're always glad they did it and they can't not do it.

  Writing for me is certainly not a hobby or a vocation. It's not even a job, although I make a living doing it. Writing is me. Like my brown eyes and sweet spot for Chihuahuas. It's always been in me, of me, on me, at me. Even when I didn't know how to write, I was romancing it and preparing to fall madly, widly, completely in love with it.