Home » Cancer » Why Do You Write?

Why Do You Write?

What am I working on?

I’m wrapping up (HA ha…sigh) a novel right now. I started it on Nov 3rd during NaNoWriMo. I didn’t write 50,000 words in 30 days. I wrote +75,000.
I’m not bragging. It completely got away from me. It was like being dragged backwards through a hedge by a Great Dane.

I didn’t have it planned out at all.

A summary. “A successful woman writing a torchy historical romance trilogy grows to hate her characters and kills them in the final book. Not everyone is happy with that decision.”

Now the blissful early days of me saying ‘Ooh, a writing contest. That sounds like fun…’ are behind me. And I’m paying for it. Turns out I know how to use the language but I don’t know how to write. There’s something, there must be something, that makes this easier to keep track of, right?

I have to get the ending right. I’ve gotten everyone just where I want them. (It’s like herding cats) The denouement is at hand! But…but…wait a sec. I have another idea. I’d have to re-write whole chapters, sure I would, and introduce another character and it could use some editing, of course. But it could be done! It WILL be done.

Right now, I could end it in 5 pages. Why don’t I just end it? I don’t know….

SO…I decided to put it aside to percolate. Right now I am working on a young adult novel on behalf of my tween niece who is fascinated with all things magical.

It’s very fun to write it but I am not making the same mistake twice. Oh no…not THIS time. I’m going to plot this thing. I’m going to have a list of characters and NO ONE is going to come wandering in and screw up my nice neat plot line. Unless…unless it’s a really great character. And the plot calls for some action. But only then…

How Does My Writing Differ?

This is an easy question for me.

My writing doesn’t differ.

There are a million other writers who struggle everyday to put what gives them joy into whatever language they speak best. Whether it’s a cookbook or a mystery novel or a blog, I’m not different. I struggle to find the sweet spot. I grapple with the intricacies of the english language and walk around swearing and staring out the window and drinking too much. Sometimes I pretend I have a cigarette. God, I miss smoking.

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I’m not Tolstoy. I’m not Austen or Cather or Faulkner or Pynchon. I’m not Thomas Hardy or Henry Fielding or Salman Rushdie. No. Because I’m not destined for greatness. The hand of God (or whichever deity you prefer) has not reached down and touched me with genius.

My writing is sometimes about how much the same we are. I write about love, joy, heartache, fear, sickness and the mundanity of the day to day. The stultifying frustration of routine.

Those things, unfortunately, I know about.

So, like millions of other writers, I escape. I do just what I shouldn’t do. I write about what I don’t know. I don’t know what it’s like to experience magic first hand. Unless you’re talking about the guy doing card tricks on the Amtrak to Portland OR. I couldn’t tell you how to behave if you come upon a body in a locked room. Personally, I’d immediately feel as if I were guilty of something. If a tall, dark, handsome stranger gave me a penetrating stare, I’d look over my shoulder to see who was behind me.

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So I pretend. I pretend there’s a special place somewhere here on Earth that magic happens.

And I’m there to see it unfold.

Why Do I Write What I Do?

I write what I do because…ha. I just sat there for 15 minutes staring out the window. It’s a good question.

ummm…it’s the only way I can experience magic.

The horrid, boring blender that life dishes out can be slightly mitigated when I write. I know that because other writers have taken me out of my scary, nasty, real cancer life and transported me places I’ve never imagined.

I want to DO THAT. I want to forget this day. I want to pretend I’m well, and young and beautiful.This isn’t MY life, this one with illness and poverty and exhaustion. Fuck it. I want to write the joke that makes you laugh out loud on the subway car. I want to dress beautifully and fall into the rooftop pool and be rescued by a millionaire.

I didn’t know I could write until I started this blog. And at the risk of sounding falsely modest, I can’t really really write. Not like my heroes. On the other hand, I got a bit of a late start. I didn’t try writing until I got sick. I know there ARE a few tricks I wouldn’t mind having up my sleeve. But in a nutshell?

I write to make magic real. To make love real. To make adventure real.

It’s a fantasy. But it’s real to me.

How Does My Writing Process Work?

If there is any method to this madness-or what authors and experienced writers call process- it has escaped me. I believe you need to know what you’re doing to have a process. If I had a process maybe I would be calmer, clearer, more able to look people in the eye without thinking ‘YOU look like the kind of person who squirts whipped cream in the ear of a total stranger.’

And I think that look worries some of those who don’t know me well.

I think of it as a Divine Lightening Bolt from somewhere out in the ether ( I picture this guy).

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He occasionally reaches down and fries my circuits. I can’t think of anything but my characters. ‘How did they end up like this? How do I get her out of the raging, storm tossed ocean? Really, Laura?! Someone threw a rock? Seriously? Who fired that shot? Jesus! Everyone STOP IT!’ They fight and argue and quibble and refuse to DO WHAT I WANT! What kind of process is that? I used to think writers who said that were jerks. So, I’m a jerk.

My goal for the new year is to learn a process. It sounds like heaven. No more waking up at 3am and thinking ‘hmmm…if she ran through the woods in a southwesterly direction she’d end up at the cabins. She could HIDE there until….”
and so on.

Please God. Give me a process. And I’m not talking about my hair so don’t get any fancy ideas!

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This interesting process was begun by the lovely Kate at MaisonBentley. She included in me in this Blog Hop and in return I would LOVE to hear what Nate over at Corvidae in the Fields has to say about his writing.

Since there must be two on this Blog Hop-and I can’t resist….I have to send this Andra Watkins way. She’s published a fantastic novel recently called ‘To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriweather Lewis” and she walked 444 miles of the Natchez Trace by herself and is probably busy working on her new novel. But I would love to hear what Andra over at The Accidental Cootchie Mama has to say about her writing.

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13 thoughts on “Why Do You Write?

  1. Thanks, Laura. I love this update on where you’re at with your writing. I don’t usually do these meme’s, and I don’t like to write about writing, but I’m going to make an exception and do a weekend post. I like the way this one is structured.

    • I’m really looking forward to it, Andra! I was intrigued as well. I’m not much into ‘navel gazing’ and I don’t have enough experience to even think much about the ‘what’, ‘why’ and ‘wherefores’ of writing. But this did get me kicked back into writing gear and for that I’m grateful. It’s been too long. Hugs.

  2. Laura, I think you are beautiful. Physically, but also mentally. You’re writing is an inspiration to a young writer like me. I also battled with having a brain tumor at fourteen so I know how it feels to shadow box cancer – some days you win, some days it’s consistently slipping out of your grasp, laughing at your even attempt. Just know – you have people looking up to you. Stay happy.

    Love, Sarah

  3. Fantastic! Thank you for sharing — it is such a joy to read something from someone so well versed. I am a blogger, not a writer. I am terribly practical. You tell a woven tapestry story — I am sound bites. Sigh. But, that is also the fun of being different and meeting all kinds of people. I look forward to your pieces coming out — you ARE a lovely writer because simply, your words are a joy to read.

    • I read this sitting on the edge of my bed at 4:49 am getting ready for work. It made me feel all ‘Aw shucks’. You write well,too if it comes down to joy as a factor, so thank you for your awesome words. I’m going to take them to the dentist today and listen to them instead of the sound of the drill. Hugs and joy

  4. Kid, you are funny…fun-nee, I tell you! Laugh out loud funny. Your process is a process in itself. We all struggle to curtail the shenanigans. Now, off I go, but I won’t top this 🙂

  5. Hi Laura Lynn,
    I don’t know you as well as most commenter’s here do but I did enjoy reading this post and it helped me get to know you a little better–at least the writing side of you 😉
    I totally enjoyed reading yours, Kate’s and Jackie’s answers to these inquiring questions…
    and I particularly enjoyed your reflections on “Why Do I Write What I Do?” 🙂
    Well you’ve now done it—you’ve got me interested, hooked and looking forward to your novel…
    and to you making me laugh out loud on the subway car!!~ ♥

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