Why I Write

I don’t remember a time in my life that I was capable of writing, but didn’t. Clearly, there was a time I both couldn’t and didn’t, I wasn’t precisely born with a pencil in my hand and knowledge of the language in my head, but I have memories of writing things going back pretty far. Silly things, mostly, but I wasn’t trying to impress anyone.

During my life,I’ve had periods where I didn’t, that’s true, though with one exception, never very long ones. I’ve had much, much longer ones where no one ever saw a word that I wrote, but that’s entirely different. I still was writing.

But why? What drives me to have once upon a time picked up a pen, and these days pick up my keyboard? Particularly since a lot of the time, no one saw it or was intended to? By that token, I can’t be doing it for attention.

The answer is this. I get ideas in my head that just won’t go away until I write them down. If I’m lucky, this happens during the day, or is an idea that is patient enough to wait for me to have time. Sometimes, I’m not so lucky, and the idea is so loud that it keeps me awake until I grudgingly crawl out of bed, stagger to the computer and write it out. That is generally enough for my brain. It doesn’t drive me to publish and show the world, just to get those ideas out there.

I’ve tended more towards story ideas than I have towards essay type things. Actually, this blog thing is new for me. These aren’t story ideas, but thoughts. But now that I’ve started, I find I have more ideas of what to write than seems sensible to post all in one go.

My brain can sometimes be a very busy place. I think that’s true for most of us. Ideas crop up at the oddest times. Not just when I’m trying to sleep, but when I’m at work, trying to listen to an audiobook, watch a movie, eat my dinner, enjoy some time with extended family. To those who know me off the internet, if you’ve ever seen my expression get a bit distant, chances are that’s what was happening. I’m just polite enough not to leap up and flee to a place I can write it out.

Putting my runaway thoughts into actual words, even if these days those words aren’t in a physical form, has always been enough to quell them.
They’ve tended to be manageable. Right up until I got this one idea that wasn’t short. It happened over last Thanksgiving weekend, when I was away in Cape Breton with my mother and her side of the family. I kept thinking about this book that I wished someone would write. On the drive home, I realized that I did have the ability to make that happen, so long as that person was myself.

But I’d never written a book. Sure, I’d dreamt of it. If I did, it would be awesome, I told myself. People would love it. It would be a bestseller. That’s easy to tell yourself when you haven’t actually written the book. But writing a whole book? Oddly, that’s where my confidence fell apart. If I but could, I told myself, I would be awesome, but I couldn’t.
So I didn’t. But this turned out to be one of those persistent but patient ideas. Christmas came and went. The idea remained. I went off to Disney World. The idea persisted. No matter what I did, the idea would come back.

Then, came May. The choice was sudden. Write the darned book, and to make it less scary, you don’t have to write it all until done. You just have to write something every day. It is allowed to be short, especially if you’ve worked that day. But just one paragraph. One snippet of dialogue between characters. More, if you want to.

I wrote out a short, rough draft in about two weeks. Don’t be too impressed, it’s only 30,000 to 40,000 words. But the story got written.

It hasn’t left me alone yet, though. It’s already gently informing me of things I need to add. Lengthen the beginning. Develop this person or place more. That final chapter ends too soon. Sheesh, brain. I haven’t gone back to it yet, though, though I have made notes on what my brain is trying to tell me in order to add it into the next draft.

I’m still writing. As you read this, I am hip-deep in a 30 day writing challenge where I need to write one short story a day for 30 days, in response to writing prompts. Don’t be too impressed that I’m still posting blog entries, though. I will have written this one shortly before the challenge started, so hello from the past.

Now. Do I think I will publish this book of mine? I think I will try to, yes, if I get it lengthened to a publishable length. Do I think it is an automatic bestseller? No, I don’t. I think it has the potential to be a good book that some will enjoy, with a lot of hard work on my part. The more I work on this thing, the more my hubris in my imaginary book has gone away. I’m dealing with a real book, and I am proud of it.

Next week, I plan to delve into how I write. I’m not sure if it’s normal or not. It probably is, but perhaps not.

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