Writing is an extreme privilege but it’s also a gift. It’s a gift to yourself and it’s a gift of giving a story to someone.
I often suffer from an overwhelming sense of guilt over the time spent creating a story. There is also a niggling resentment towards those in my life who fail to understand the demands of the creative process; question why precious time is sacrificed to researching settings and content facts. Lest we forget, the hours spent searching Pinterest and Google’s image files for a character’s face with which to construct meaningful profiles. All done BEFORE the writing begins with the roughing out the first, second, and third act timelines. After all, are you not supposed to write what you already know? Shouldn’t it just flow from your brain through your keyboard onto the screen? I’m thrilled it’s not that simple or boring.
Lost count of the number of people who asked: What’s the point of writing? What do you get out of it?
Fair enough, as I’ve asked myself those Yeti-sized questions. Many times. Sure, all those characters chattering in my head begged for their voices to be heard, but that isn’t the driving force. It is the unleashing of the magic that happens when I allow my imagination the freedom to run. How many times have you re-read your work and could not remember writing it? The words almost otherworldly. Where did those passages filled with descriptive beauty or demonically disturbing imagery come from? How about those scenes that elicited laughter and tears; made you fall in love with or develop a hatred toward a character you created? I’ve cowered in fear. Felt invincible. In truth, the driving force is who I become when I write. I embody the protagonist, the antagonist, and the other supporting characters. The real world ceases to exist for hours at a time.
Does the same thing happen when I read what someone else wrote? It better or I won’t finish the book. My latest read, Delia Owens “Where The Crawdads Sing”, held me from its poetic beginning to its satisfying finish, which left me smirking. Throughout the story, I offered words of encouragement to Kya and praised her ingenuity and bravery, fell in love with Tate then vocalized my deep disappointment over his betrayal. I believed I moved side-by-side with them. Owens novel captivated me from the first chapter. It exemplified excellent story telling. The kind of writing I strive to achieve.
As to that other question: What do I get out of it? The same as a dedicated golfer, musician, or dancer. Beyond the creative high and escapism, I thrive on the challenge to master the endeavour. I am driven to excel at the wizardry of weaving a tale that grabs the soul’s imagination, punishes the ego at its failure to meet high expectations. My quest is to spin a story the reader identifies with, forces them to invest in at least one character’s journey from beginning to end because it is also their journey. If the first few chapters fail to capture their curiosity, or the story doesn’t suspend disbelief, I’ve failed them. Rewrite. If the writing is awkward, overwritten, not sharp and tight, I’ve failed us both. Rewrite.
The ultimate goal is to create a work worthy of a place on a bookshelf. One that nudges a smile from the reader upon glancing at the title and remembering. Until I have convinced the inner critic my writing has attained such power, it is unworthy of being published. In the meantime, I will continue to hone and refine my skills. For me, it is the journey not the destination that counts.
How about you? What drives you to write or inspires your journey? What have you read that has never let you go?
Thanks for listening. Cheers.
4 thoughts on “What Is The Point?”
I write out of curiosity to find out what happens. I’m a pantser through and through, and If I don’t write that book, I’ll never know what happened to those characters. Just the other day I tried to outline my latest book. After half an hour of frustration, I gave up and started writing. But, of course, once the first draft done, revising happens…
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Thanks Rada. And YES! I find copious outlining process stifles my creative process. I admit to being a plantser but my loose outline amounts to the first few bricks of my yellow-brick road. Like you, if something goes askew it gets corrected in the revisions. I don’t believe any more time is invested in writing from the heart and cuff than when a detailed outline is constructed. The prewrite is very labour/time intensive for me and stifling. Cheers.
Hey S.C. writing sorts out my mind. Gives me a way to fictionalise the craziness around us. Helps me to laugh rather than cry.
Hello again! Fact can be crazier than fiction, Maxigirl. I suppose that’s why we gasp when we hear the atrocities a person can commit on another human being or illustrate how ridiculous we can be. Does make for interesting storytelling.