Monday, March 1, 2010

What is it like?

Nobody ever said being a writer would be easy. There are scads of articles and books and blogs about the difficulties, the loneliness, the anxiety. This is not one of those blogs. It can't be for a number of reasons, the primary one being this ain't what I do for living. Yet. Nope, I'm still hanging on to the dreaded "day job" for now so in my mind, writing is the spoon I'm using to carve out the tunnel in my cell. One tiny scoop at a time and I'm that much closer to breathing fresher air.

But what is it about writing that makes those of us who write constantly hold it out for inspection? Get two writers in a room and invariably they will talk about their process and projects with the same weird rolling eyes as the people in Close Encounters creating huge mashed potato towers. What is it about writing?

My own sister has recently joined the fray and we were trying to answer the question: what's it like to write? Not "Where do you get your ideas?" or "How did you come up with that?" but "What is it like when you are onto the scent of a project, when you're in the clutches of an idea?" Monica said it's like the first time you have sex - you start out thinking you know what it's going to be like and not entirely sure what exactly is involved and afterwards you think "Man, that was so much better than I expected." Clearly, my sister and I had very different first time experiences! (I'm hoping my mom still can't find this blog.)

What is it like for you? How do you describe it? Throw your pile of mashed potatoes on the table and lets build that tower.


Monica R. said...

Ok, so "so much better than I expected" wasn't what I MEANT to say about sex, but it WAS about putting those first words down on paper. I just hope some of your magic with words is genetic.

SG Redling said...

LOL leave it to a big sister to backpedal! That's a nice thing to say about the genetics - let's face it, we come from a long line of bull sh****rs, I mean, storytellers.

Anita Clenney said...

Are you asking what the writing is like or the sex :)

Okay, I'll assume writing. I tend to need motivation. I can write for twenty hours straight when I really get going, and unfortunately, stop for days when I shouldn't. Actually, someone asked today where I got my ideas. The ideas are just there waiting for something to jog them loose. I do a lot of brainstorming at night in bed and also when I'm driving.

As to your question...what is it like to write? I feel like a hermit a lot. I sit around in my PJ's too much, which probably isn't healthy, but I love what I'm doing. I love creating the stories and characters and watching it come to life on the page. The brainstorming, when I'm sniffing out a story, is the absolute best. But it's all good. Well, maybe not editing. That's not as much fun. It gets stressful looking at one paragraph for half a day because it just doesn't sound right.

I'm lucky that I have a fabulous husband who allowed me to break our agreement for me to go back to work after my youngest went to kindergarten, so I don't have another job. Sometimes I'm not sure if that's a good thing. I think the interaction with human beings might actually help jog those stories loose as well.

My editing partner and I get together once every week or two for breakfast or lunch and we plot and talk. Sometimes we laugh about how bizarre our conversations must sound to anyone listening to us talking about demons and warriors and vampires as if they were living next door.

SG Redling said...

That's so funny, Anita. More than once we've been overheard at lunch talking about a great slaughter scene. It does make service pick up!

Liz Lipperman said...

Okay, I wanna hear about your first time!!

Not really, although this did make me smile, especially now that big sis is back pedaling. Maybe we need to hear about her first time!

Time to get serious. I agree with Anita. I can write for hours without eating (and that's a miracle in itself!) and then go for days without being inspired. I try to be disciplined like the "real" writers, but I haven't mastered it yet. I do what works best for me.

Good blog, Sheila.

SG Redling said...

Hi Liz - Thanks for encouraging my sister to come clean! ;-)

The whole "real writer" thing can be intimidating, don't you think? If you can write for hours, you may be writing more than someone who writes briefly everyday. Is it a numbers game? A calendar game? Or is it about the end product? What I'd really like to know is how you write without eating? I don't think my fingers can find the keyboard without coffee and M&Ms!