June 4, 2010 – The Joy of Writing

“The Joy of Writing”

I have often wondered why I write. Why do I feel compelled to put pen to paper or open up Word and start typing? Yesterday, we were in Lowe’s and I had my notebook with me. While Ben looked for stuff in electrical, I promptly opened up the book and started writing as we walked. I’ve always been able to read/write and walk at the same time. My mother, from whom I get my talent, lovingly called it “playing Jo”, as my favorite character of all time is Jo March from Alcott’s Little Women. My father once asked, as he came upon me writing, “What obsession are you trying to write your way out of now?” I was a teenager at the time but that has always stuck with me.

He’s right. I have no many ideas, stories loves, hates, characters…obsessions rattling around in my head, what else can I do to exorcise them? I have to give them voice, let them play, love, hate, succeed, fail, mourn, rejoice, scheme. Sometimes they get out of hand and I have to rein them in for their own good, or else they would destroy everything and set the story completely off-course. Other times, they get out of hand and I let them have their head like a horse that wants to run, to see where they take me. I fully buy into John Fowles’ notion that characters (and stories) make decisions of their own about where they want to go. I cannot always tell them where to go and why; they have their own notions of their lives, no matter how I chalk things out.

I become obsessed with characters that intrigue me, which is why I think I am so good  at fan-fiction. Once I get an idea into my head, I have to make it happen somehow. Once upon a time, I spent three to four weeks researching Etruscan history, society, burial rituals, and art in order to add maybe a page of information to a story I was writing based on the television series “Highlander”. Something that I cannot even publish! But I wanted to add it and thus, it had to be so. It’s the only way I can think of to give voice and understanding to these dearly loved demons of mine. I am rather one myself, I’m sure my characters would say. I enjoy torturing them, giving them difficult, even heartbreaking situations deal with. I even had one very self-aware character, in a chain story written with friends, comment on why she has to have the self-torturing writer.

Yes, my writing allows me to work through my obsessions. When I was a teenager, I would fill notebooks with stories about myself and my friends. One year, that was my Christmas gift to my closest friends: a story for each of them involving them and their favorite boy-band boy at the time. I write about music (if you have ever seen the beginnings of my story “Thais”, it is indeed inspired by Mannesset’s classical piece). I write about movies, comics, television shows. I write poems and stream-of-consciousness pieces to vent my emotions. I write about the books that I read, the histories I adore.

I have yet to write a full-length novella/novel work of my own that is wholly mine and publishable. My father keeps asking when I will put out my first novel and the truth is, I don’t know if I ever will. Maybe a collection of stories or nonfiction is more likely. We shall see. For now, I am content to write whatever I can whenever I can.

Summer used to be my binge-writing-and-reading time because it was the time that I got to write for myself. One year, I counted it up. I wrote 9 stories, 6 poems, and 13 haiku in a summer. I loved that summer. I think those stories were part of my “in-between stories” project. I took the parts of Tolkien’s world that he didn’t show us and sought to write stories to fill in the blanks, i.e., when Gandalf and Aragorn met for the first time or how Gimli and Legolas came to decide to sail from Middle Earth at last. I enjoyed those so and they became somewhat of the last hurrah for my all-encompassing Tolkien obsession during my college years. Don’t get me wrong, I still adore the man and would sit on his lap and listen to him tell stories if the chance were ever presented to me. But those last stories were my exorcism and then I could move on.

Writing is cathartic, it’s cleansing, it’s joyful, it’s saddening. My writing is my dreams, my hopes, my loves, my hates, my talent. I never want to lose it, thus why you get to read this. And I’m always open for suggestions, too. As Jo March would say, “Give me a task to do!”


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