What is it that makes writers so passionate about their craft? By all rights, writing – writing well – would seem a chore of monumental proportions. I was reminded recently by good friend and musician/composer extraordinaire, Ken Bonfield, of the time, body and finger aches, the thought and inspiration that go into composing a musical piece.
For a poet, a fiction writer, a memoirist – and forget the time spent marketing, hoping to publish, either traditionally or DIY – the process can wear a good person down:
- First you have to have a seed, a germ of an idea for a story. I’ve often been asked where mine come from. I just don’t know – from life experience? From imagination? Piggy-backing on history or a story someone else has written? Possibly. This is the work of the muses – something in the subconscious bleeding to get out, onto a page, to be told before the hearth, squirming to explain itself through the vehicle of real but imagined life. And this is perhaps the easiest part of the writer’s jaunt.
- In today’s reading world, in which “reality” (true or contrived) rules, a writer must do research. I was once told that because I once had a cell phone’s existence some five years out of place in a story of mine, this reader would scrupulously avoid any stories of mine from that day on. Nice guy. The point being that imagined stories must be settled into a realistic setting, historically placed. And that means research.
- Then there’s the writing itself: the labor intensive first draft. A 60,ooo word novel can take as long as a year to write well. Then there are the editing phases, in which story, characters, rising action, setting, narrative, voice, tone – all these must come about seamlessly, as if the whole thing had happened to perfection in spontaneous fashion.
This takes a lot out of a person, of course, physically, emotionally, psychically. Still, there’s the question of why the writer does it once, then does it again, and again. The only answer I have is that it’s like being swept up in something larger than one’s self, a wild, primitive river, begging to express, to be understood, in some yet-to-be-determined fashion. We grab a laptop, a pen and pad of paper, and leap in, never afraid of drowning in it, but hoping that you will.
Visit my website here, where you’ll have an opportunity to download an audio eversion of my latest, Sam’s Place, as well as select book review podcasts. Then there’s my FB Fan Page here. On both you’ll find more on ideas and events that matter to me – and possibly to you.