I stumbled upon this old blog post and felt that it perfectly summed up my my reason for being a writer in a way that I can't currently top. It also gives a little insight into the process of writing a book, starting with no previous experience and the simple need to write.
IT'S HARD TO imagine how you'll feel after finishing a long-term project, especially one that really means something. Will you feel relieved or sad? Elated, or put off the whole experience for life? Well, while plugging away at my first novel, picking it up and playing with it like a cat with a half dead mouse, only to drop it again (rinse and repeat), I never thought that I'd get to the end.
Looking back, it's easy to explain my wavering commitment.
The Wrong Frame of Mind
Crimson Touch began its life many years ago, not as book of any kind, but as a form of therapy. At the time, writing was the only thing that could give me the release I needed. I could take all the negativity in my head and pour it into the page, turning it into something positive in the process. The result of this was an amalgamation of everything I had been through -- converted into the form of a fictional character.
Years later, that same character still buzzed around in my mind. He haunted my daydreams and plagued my thoughts, never too far away. I frequently found myself wondering what his story was. When I finally did commit to taking the character further, it was to get him out of my head.
I had no idea what I was in for.
In it for the Long Haul
I don't know about you, but before I started writing I was a different person. Aimless and bored, I found it hard to be passionate about anything. I was average at most things I put my hand to and had picked up the nasty habit of getting by on minimal effort. This made me lazy.
I wrote half a draft, then gave it up as a bad job.
It's difficult to pinpoint the exact moment I decided to give a damn. But that was the moment when everything changed. Starting from scratch, this time I was in it for the long haul.
From that point on, I became someone I wanted to be. Focused, driven, passionate; I had purpose. I told anyone who would listen that I was writing a book. I got the same reaction from most people -- doubt and, god forbid, sympathy. They didn't believe I could do it. But the more people I told, the harder I was making it for myself to turn back. I read book after book on writing advice, articles on plotting and magazines that talked about style and voice. I read novels through the eyes of a writer, as well as a hungry reader.
Slowly but surely, the words were filling the screen. What I didn't realise, though, that I was still holding back. Emotionally.
'There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed'- Ernest Hemingway
It's natural to want to shield yourself from emotional discomfort. But going to that dark place in your heart and actually living it, feeling it, is necessary if you want it to be real for others. After all, how can you convince anyone that your characters are worth the emotional investment if you're not willing to go there yourself?
Writing the first draft of Crimson Touch has been a journey of self-discovery. I've learned what kind of person I am, as well as how to write a book (and how not to!) and actually finish what I start. Of course, writing a book is only the first step. The next few will be just as hard -- and just as rewarding.
Author of short fiction and journals for writers.