Monday, April 14, 2008

The Writing Life

The writing life is very peculiar. Maybe you have to be crazy to do it. I don't remember when I first thought that I would like to write a book one day, but I know I was very young. As an elementary school kid I was always making up plays and putting them on. But I didn't really like to star in them. I was too shy. Maybe that's why I always liked to write. I was too timid to say anything in front of people, but I could write it. Then in high school I became a closet writer and wrote a lot of poetry that I kept to myself. All that adolescent turmoil bubbled up and out onto the page. It was a great vent and again I didn't have to say a thing. Then came college and I took a creative writing class that I almost flunked. I just couldn't agree with the teacher. I don't think there was anything creative about what she was teaching. Then I did what girls did back then when they graduated from college. I got married. I recall thinking I would write a book once I got used to this working and housekeeping thing. Then came the babies, so I would write a book after they were out of diapers, after they went to school, after I didn't have to run carpool anymore, after, after, after, after. One morning I woke up on my birthday (and it was a birthday that really got my attention) and thought to myself that I had about let time run out. So I went out and bought my first computer, brought it home, set it up, and sat in front of it. To my horror I realized I had nothing to say. It was a while before I hooked onto a story. I wrote every night from 9:00 pm until 1:00 am when everyone had gone to bed but me. Weekends were tough because the kids were all in sports. But, I managed to spit out a 100,000 word story in about 3 months. I guess I did it so quickly because I didn't know what I was doing. And I have to say, the story was awful. I still have it in a box high on a shelf. I never want anyone to read it, but can't seem to part with it. I wonder what that's all about. I look at my writing schedule now and it doesn't make sense how long it takes for a book to come out of me. Kids are grown and gone, I know more about what I'm doing, I have a great co-writer, and I only work part time. Now, finishing one book a year is tough. Go figure.


Mark Terry said...

"Maybe" you have to be crazy to do it?????

paul lamb said...

I've always been writing, as far back as I can remember. It's only recently (after the kids are grown and on with their lives) that I've begun to take it seriously enough to consider writing fiction for actual publication.

Crazy like a fox crazy, I think.

Nina Wright said...

Funny how when we don't know what we're doing, we often do it fearlessly and fast.

Lynn, I can relate to your first solo opus vs today's carefully crafted co-written works. The first play I directed, a controversial straight drama, had a shoestring budget, daunting production requirements, and a cast of 17--including some "types" not easily found in the local talent pool. I welcomed the challenge. Today when I direct, I rarely venture beyond small ensemble pieces (cast of 4 or 5) with minimal production requirements.

Likewise, my prose is simpler now than back in the day when I was burning with adverbs and adjectives. ;<)