Sunday, October 28, 2007

I love writing.

Novel Journey has a great (and rare) interview with Dean Koontz. He answers each question with care and attention; I wouldn’t be surprised if he spent several days on it. He says that he likes writing much more than having written.

Then I was reading Stewart’s post about journaling, and he mentioned that some people complained they didn’t want to write every day because it was too confining.

When I read that, I sort of went bug-eyed. I thought, are you kidding me? I can’t imagine a day without writing. I can’t imagine not wanting to write about everything, not wanting to put my thoughts into coherent paragraphs for this blog, not wanting to spill my whinings and complainings into a big dump file, not wanting to push forward with my latest story and see where it goes.

So in the comment section, I typed, "I love writing." I almost erased it. Well, you know, it sounds a little cheesy. DH had to practically pry the love word out of me when we were dating.

This love of writing wasn’t an instant-on thing. Sure, when I wrote that first story, I had a total crush on the process. I remember I couldn’t wait to play and toy with the words. It was so fun! I’d grin at the screen and play with a single sentence for an hour!

But then I had to finish that first novella, after my very first story won a tiny little contest and was turned into a first chapter. I’d write a chapter, send it off, it would be posted, and I’d get a check. This situation made for a lousy reading experience, but, at the time, it was the norm (e. had not boomed yet, and EC hadn’t been born).

Of course I totally wrote myself into a corner. I know I switched heroes halfway through. I got stuck. I couldn’t go back and change things, which meant I had a huge mess on my hands that I had to pull together anyway.

With a stack of how-to-write books beside me, I muddied through it. The first crush feelings were gone. It was work.

Then I wrote to understand humans, intimacy, my sexuality. The writing was secondary to my psychological journey. Writing itself became an up and down process where I would sometimes take weeks off, months off, until I missed it so much that writing and I would ’get back together’ again.

Through the grittiest, hardest part of learning the craft, money was my savior. I needed money, so I wrote. Without that, I would still be on the same novel, the same first chapter, fretting that it sucked. Even two years ago I took six whole months off to research (okay, I read voraciously but really got little writing done).

There are days when I wish I could just stay home, when I hate the fact that I can’t just sit around the house and play a game or watch TV. There are days where the prospect of writing makes my teeth grind--the exact same feeling I get on those days when DH just chews so gawddamned loudly, you know?

I’ve briefly considered, now and then, whether or not I liked writing. Mostly I just did it. I just obeyed the call of the keys.

Yesterday, though, was a bit of an epiphany. I love writing. I had no idea. I don’t know when it happened, exactly. The thought of going a day without writing is preposterous to me. Don’t tell DH, but when he wants us to go away for the weekend? My first thought is damn, I won’t be able to write. Isn’t that horrible?

But so often you hear writers say if you really love it, you’ll find the time to sit down and write. You should have the motivation, you should have that love.

That is so ass-backwards.

Sure, there is love at first sight, but even then, there’s a journey to a deeper love. There are times when you almost break up, when you do break up, when you get back together, when you just don’t feel like being around each other. And then one day, gradually, you look and "suddenly" realize you deeply love each other.

To those writers who struggle with guilt and motivation and all that nonsense? I’d say give it time. Give it years. Develop a respect for each other, let it deepen into friendship, and give writing the time for passion to take root and grow.

And put some effort into keeping the sparks alive. They’ll get you through the rough spots.

Just don’t expect a hello, nice to meet you, I love you--don’t blame yourself for it. Let the relationship play out--both work at it and enjoy it as it is, not as someone tells you it should be.

So. Do you love writing? When, how, and how long did it take to happen? When did you notice it? Or was it love at first sight?

8 bonus scribbles:

Susan Helene Gottfried 10/28/2007 11:59:00 AM  

Guess I'm different than you, 'cause I was born this way. My being a writer is hard-wired. There is no love/hate. There is only the need.

spyscribbler 10/28/2007 02:54:00 PM  

Everyone's different, of course. Come to think of it, my love/hate is usually with working 15 hours a day, LOL. I do have days where I resent that a lot, where I just want to read a book or watch a little tv, go on a walk, or get out and about, you know?

I was born with the need for expression, but writing pursued me more than I pursued it. It seduced me, LOL.

Karen Olson 10/28/2007 03:12:00 PM  

I've gone for periods without writing, but there's always that day when I start getting antsy and a story's in my head and I have to start writing. Because of my life, I don't write every day but it's always in the back of my head. I think that's a roundabout way of saying I agree with Susan, it's not a love/hate thing but a need thing.

spyscribbler 10/28/2007 04:15:00 PM  

I understand that itch, definitely. Perhaps what I really meant was a love of the discipline.

I wish I had your ease with it. I've never hated writing, but I definitely hate Saturday nights. I hate that I'm writing and I have five more hours before I go to bed and I did nothing fun all week, and I still have more writing to get done. I hate that a whole week went by and I only read one book that I didn't even like. I hate that a whole week went by and, although I got a lot of writing done, I didn't have any together time with DH.

Some writers say that if you like writing, you'll find the time to sit down every day. The underlying message is that if you don't sit down every day, then you don't love it enough.

I didn't always love sitting down every day. But now I hate the thought of letting a day go by without writing.

At the same time? I definitely have days where I'd rather be cuddling up with DH, playing with my cats, cleaning the house, going to a movie, going to visit my friends--heck, even stupid things like going to the dentist, buying clothes, eating out.

But even though I want to do those things at that moment, I know that overall, I want what dedicating my time to writing that day will mean to my craft. I want that improvement to my skills more than I resent the fact of missing a day off.

Does that make any sense?

Edie 10/28/2007 04:16:00 PM  

I'm with Karen and Susan - especially Karen about the antsy feeling when she's taken time off from writing. But I do love writing and I love words. Lately I've fallen even more in love with it. I'll read a sentence in a book and marvel at the way it's put together, the skill of the writer, the flow of the sentence. That's how I want to write.

spyscribbler 10/28/2007 04:27:00 PM  

Oh man, Edie, I hear that! Some writers' works just make me drool.

I think Marcus Sakey is going to be brilliant and have a very long career. MJ Rose, comes to mind, too. The way she constructs sentences and story is practically, um, erotic.

Some people just have a way with words! It's ... so amazing. Gosh. I wish I could do that so much!

Kate S 10/28/2007 06:40:00 PM  

Thanks for this post, Spy. I've suffered the guilts for thinking that I don't love enough.

Heck, I've even felt that way about parenting, when I KNOW it's not true--I love her with all my heart--but sometimes, darnit, it's just HARD WORK.

And on those days when you're already exhausted, feeling unappreciate, and your little darling is misbehaving (plot snags, wimpy characters)it's easy (for me anyway) to wonder, why even bother?

But then there are those days when time just flies by and my daughter comes in and strokes my hair while I'm writing, and life is good. :)

spyscribbler 10/28/2007 11:33:00 PM  

LOL, Kate. Parenting and teaching, I think, require one to accept that one is most definitely not anywhere near perfect, LOL. At least, that's how I feel.

"and my daughter comes in and strokes my hair while I'm writing"

*envious sigh* That's why being a parent is WAY cooler than being a teacher, LOL.