Why I Write

Recently, a friend interested in putting down some of their stories asked me to tell her about the writing process. What follows is some guidance I offered on what a writer (or artist) encounters during the process of making their art.
So, you want to be a writer? Easy Peasy.
Writing is easy.jpg     First, Getting started:  Though you’re jazzed about your subject you probably won’t know where to start, and once you get started you won’t know where to end. (I once had a tee shirt that said, “Help! I’m writing and I can’t shut up!”) You might hem and haw for weeks, or a few years, before you actually put down a single sentence.
     If you’re writing non-fiction you can look forward to hours of research and a lot of what you find will be conflicting or misleading or just plain goofy. 
     If you’re writing fiction your characters will amuse, befuddle, infuriate, scare, fascinate, sadden, and delight you. They will keep you up at night, whispering their stories into your ear. You might even start talking about them to others as if they’re troubled friends you can’t puzzle out. You might start to ask random questions of friends and family that will give them pause like, “If you hid a body in a manure pile would anyone notice the stink?” or “How many people do you think you could have affairs with at the same time without getting caught?”
When you finish your story you will likely be both sad and relieved to see your characters go.
Unless you’re committed to a life of clean living, you will likely consume lots of coffee and adult beverages and take up cussing. If you don’t already, you might consider starting. While writing you might forget to eat or shave or get dressed–sometimes for days. Those unfamiliar with the creative process might tell you to get a job or a date or a therapist.
     During the revision process you will probably chuck whole paragraphs or pages or chapters. (I’ve completely rewritten the beginning of my book four times and I once abandoned an entire 350 page novel.) You will face periods wondering if you have anything new or unique to say. If you’re lucky enough to have an good editor he/she will make you want to simultaneously praise, weep, hug, and slap them. 
    Friends or family to whom you have eagerly given your work for feedback might frown or stammer or shrug. They might tell you that you have a nice hobby but not to quit your day job. They might shake their heads and tell you they don’t get it, or worse yet, they might refuse to read it at all. Agents and publishers alike may repeatedly (and sometime cruelly) reject you and/or your work. 
     Frustrated and disillusioned and filled with self-doubt you might throw your manuscript into a drawer (or bury it in the bowels of your computer) for months, maybe even years. Your fears will have you wondering if you have anything of value to offer anyone, ever.
     If you keep at it, however, with the help and support of writer’s groups and trusted friends, you just might discover that you have fallen in love with your craft. You’ll love the magic and the mystery of creating a story that takes you to places you’ve always dreamed of going, and to dark passages you swore you’d never enter. You’ll come to love the uncertainty and the excitement and the grief and the joy. You will find deep satisfaction in telling your own story, in your own words. You might even feel more alive than you’ve ever felt before.
     And, you will know that you’re really, really committed to your craft when you gladly subject yourself to all of this and more, and couldn’t imagine yourself doing anything else. You do it because finding your voice through writing allows (sometimes forces) you to look at the world through different eyes, that it has matured and softened you in the best possible way. 
     When you have finally completed your work and released it out into the world, you will likely to never have worked so hard on anything in your life. And, you would do it all over again in a heartbeat.
This is why I write.

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