Chasing Inspiration

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Why I Write

I gave up writing for a while.  Or I thought I did.

I've been writing fiction since elementary school. I didn't seriously consider writing for fun and profit until about 10 years ago, at which time I joined a writer's group and started hanging out with writerly types and stalking  spending time with published authors.  I produced about 5 manuscripts and countless partial novels that are stuffed inside a virtual drawer on my computer. I queried and sent out my stories and was both ignored and rejected. This didn't phase me - I've heard often enough that rejection is a part of the writing game and any author who has not been rejected by a publishing house hasn't been trying hard enough.

I gave up writing about three years ago. It was a conscious decision because my muse and my mind weren't speaking to each other any more and I couldn't write. I would stare at a blank page on the computer screen or in my notebook and not have anything to say.  So I set it aside and went on with life.

Except I didn't really stop writing. As soon as I put the need to be published aside and tucked my self imposed deadlines into the black abyss that is my home office, I started seeing stories again.

Not long stories. Short quips and scenes. I amused myself to no end with them, just living them out in my head. Until one day, the character who is the bane of my existence and the reason for my self imposed writing embargo whispered a scene in my ear that had me sitting up abruptly in bed (she never did have good timing) and craving a pen and paper so I could write this gem down.  For years I had been struggling with this character, trying to understand who she was and what story she was trying to tell. I have three drafts of the first third of her book on my computer and each one is different except for a few things - her name, the location of the story, and the fact that there is something "other" about her. Oh, and a priest who is in love with her and not in love with being a priest, but that's another story for another day.

I've been writing, albeit slowly, ever since. And through this process I've discovered why I write. I don't write because I want to make a career out of it (though that would be nice). I don't write because writing is soothing and relaxing (it isn't, at least not all the time). I don't write because I'm a good writer (I have a lot to learn...I'm an okay writer).

I write because there is a story burning deep inside me and it won't let go until it has been told. The way it wants to be told. I would love to get to the place where I write because it is fun and I get paid to live in my head and lie for a living. I would love to write because I'm disciplined and because storytelling has become effortless. I don't know if I'll ever reach those places. In the meantime, I write because if I don't I'll have Mallory harping on my shoulder for the rest of my life and trust me, no one wants that.

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