Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Journey of Writing

I had the rare occasion today to sit and read a physical book for hours while waiting for my car to be serviced. I didn't really like the book that much, but reading always makes me want to write.  Either to produce something better than what I read or to explore characters in the same way I get to explore them as I read.

So, I returned home and sat in front of my laptop to write.  I started on a story that I had been contemplating for some time, and I was immediately disappointed.  In no way was this writing process as enjoyable and easy as reading.  Where was the effortless explosion of character?  Why did I not have a firm grasp on this person's character?  I wanted so badly to enjoy that writer climax in which my fingers are flying across the keys because I know exactly what to write and because I feel so close and intimate with this person I created, like they are my new best friend.

But writing is much like life in this way.  A writer does not normally achieve that sort of euphoric state without effort.  In fact, the effort is what creates the joy.  We find joy because we put in effort.  The relationships with our characters are just like the relationships with those around us: the intimacy must be earned by spending time with them, listening, and putting their needs before your own.  Only then are you truly able to partake in that breathtaking climatic moment of intimacy.

So, even though I feel like giving up on this story because I'm not "feeling it" right away, I'm going to keep on.  Perseverance will yield much in the end.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Reading and Writing

As a writer, reading is paramount in importance.  Reading is as essential to the writing process as food is to eating.  At first, I resisted this notion because I didn't have a lot of time to read.  I thought, "I can still write and not read!" True, you can. 
However, I realized the writing is very much a collaboration.  Often, in the midst of competition and pride, this sense gets lost and discarded for the sake of maintaining one's sense of writer dignity.  I am blessed to be a part of two workshops in which the attendees all understand that we can be brutally honest when we constructively critique each other's work.  We understand that their input is vital, and we respect each other.

So, reading is a collaboration.  But what about published books?

I honestly miss reading a book.  I don't have nearly enough time to read.  So, I spend my daily three-hour total commute to read in the car.  Audible has become my best friend.  I'm able to read a book about every two weeks listening to it in the car, and the audio makes the drives go by in a flash.

Some people argue that listening to a book isn't as "legit" as reading it.  I think both have their pluses and minuses.  (That could be a whole blog post by itself.  We'll save it for another time.)  Nevertheless, audio books, though they will never replace the tangible book, have given me an opportunity to get consistent reading in.

The results?  I find that I'm more consistently enthusiastic to write.  Reading other people's stories gets me excited about mine.  And not even considering all of the rest of possible consequences, I'd say that's a pretty good deal.