Last Round, I confessed that writing is my avocation, not my vocation. This Round, I have another confession. Unlike so many of you, I am not a writer who can’t not write. Near the end of the last Round, I read a post that struck harmonic resonances with me. Ryan Urie, in a guest post, wrote, “Over and over other authors tell me ‘I write because I can’t not write!’ At which point I turn a little green with envy, duck my head, and slink away feeling a little self-conscious and completely unworthy as a writer because, let me tell you, not writing is the easiest thing in the world for me.”
Preach it, brother, because I have that experience with ROWers all the time. I see the word counts, the NaNos and Camp NaNos, Fast Drafts and word sprints, and hide away, polishing my paltry 250 words a day, on a good day, that is. Sure, every year or so, I have a character who moves into my head, squawking until I pay him/her attention, but most of the time? I can not write just fine. I can spend hours watching 1930’s or 40’s movies, playing video games, reading books, philosophizing with family and friends, or even doing housework. My apartment was never cleaner when I was writing (or not) my Master’s thesis; when I have an article to write for work, my cubicle could star in an Office Beautiful spread. But when I’m trying to write fiction, I suffer the torments of several circles of Dante’s inferno. Characters tell me I’m boring, a snob, and so out of touch as to be mummified. I second-guess every plot point and line of dialogue. I write 1000 words, to throw out 700. I am Sisyphus in a tormented cha-cha.
Those of you lucky driven writers may wonder why I bother, when I have to quell the magpie, shut my eyes to the wonders of the internet when researching, convince myself that I am not thirsty and do not need to wander down to the kitchen. I bother because writing helps me puzzle out the twists and turns of life; understand what things carry meaning for me; ponder the lessons of the past to understand the present. I write in the hope of informing and entertaining others; in making others think about things that are newer than we think, like easy access to water and food; or older than we realize, like teenage angst and adoration of rock stars. Although I struggle to sit down, and the words rarely come easily, I find the rewards worth the effort and pain. My life is richer, my appreciation for it deeper, and my angst of living in the wrong century lessened.
Are you one of the lucky writers, whose words flow into the bowl of the fountain, constantly overflowing into the basin below? Or might you be more in my camp, pushing the rock up the mountain over and over? Either way, I’d love to hear your thoughts.