As a writer, I belong to numerous discussion loops whose evil plans are to crash my in-box under the weighty heft of insightful discussions on the industry, craft and whether your cover should feature more or less skin. However, one day someone sweetly shared a link to a very insightful blog about being a writer. After picking myself up off the floor, I quickly forwarded it on to the other, like-minded individuals of my critique group, and then, because I’m mean, I made my hubby sit down and read it.
I sat on pins and needles (okay, so I basically stood over him with a blunt object) and waited for him to be swept away by the genius evident in the post. He laughed, which was good–nice to know the warped sense of humor I married him for all those eons ago is still there–and then he looked at me with (gasp!) pity?!!! What the hell? No, no, no, he was suppose to say, “Oh honey, now I understand why the Prankster Duo and I have to exist on unidentifiable left overs and delivery, while you sit in a dark office illuminated only by the flicker of a computer screen and why you sometimes resemble Gollum from Lord of the Rings (that’s the weird little dude who glows in the dark for you non-nerds). It all makes sense!”
Did he say that? Um, nope. Instead his response is, “It’s okay baby, I knew that when I married you and I still said ‘I do’.”
Seriously?? Did he not see the mad genius that exists in each writer’s mind? It’s a mad babble of voices that fight for supremacy while leaving minor things like groceries, doctor appointments, eating, and basic hygiene, scrambling for solid purchase in their frenzied wake? There’s a reason a writer will stare at you with a bemused smile while their eyes keep darting off to the side in the midst of your conversation. Really, they’d love to listen to you but it’s a bit hard when the characters in your head start to get pushy and demand exclusive attention. I know, it sounds a bit psychotic, but it’s not our fault. It’s why we write!
Growing up, every book or movie that caught my attention (Star Wars, Lloyd Alexander’s The Book of Three, Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising, and oh so many more) would end up being rewritten in my head. A new character would join the cast—the female bounty hunter that made Princess Leia look like a wimp, the female wizard that kept Taran the Wanderer from wandering, or the brand spanking new character that joined Bran and Will in overcoming the looming evil to wake the Old Ones—and the story would adjust accordingly, starring a character that eerily resembled, well, moi.
Eventually what transpired in my head made it to paper via an electric typewriter. Now days, my shiny desktop fruit helps me capture the worlds and characters in vivid detail for others to enjoy. On some level, I’m hoping to spark that same need to add and rewrite in my readers. If I’ve done my job right, it should work and I’ll have dragged another poor, unsuspecting soul into the maddening world of a writer. If not? Well, then I must try again, and again…
I once read something that clicked even though it was directed at musicians. They said to make great art, you had to expose your soul, even though some things are better left safely in the dark. Those that fear exposing such darkness are constantly tormented by the fact they can almost touch the creative beast, while those who grit their teeth and reach out may burn, but the beauty of such exposure ensnares those around them.
Much like playing or creating music, writing demands a price from its creator. Every writer uses their own experiences in some way or fashion to help put life into our characters and create believable worlds, but it’s also one of the scariest things we’ll ever do.
The next time you run across one of us, be gentle and understand, regardless of the genre (poetry, children’s books, songwriting, screen writing, mystery, romance, etc.) published or unpublished, we are writers and it’s not as simple as sitting down and typing out a string of words. We’re sharing with you something infinitely precious, so if you damage it, expect repercussions. You may find something familiar about that character we killed off in horrible ways in our next book. Yet, if you share how much you enjoyed our stories, you’ll make a writer’s week. Heck, maybe even our month.
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Thanks for sharing, Jami! My advice to readers, if you haven’t met the Kyn yet, you need to check them out.