Today's topic for the weekly Sunday evening #writechat on Twitter is: what do you love about writing? Well, I decided that 140 characters were not really enough to answer that, and I know I have a few faithful readers out there who must be wondering if I am still alive, so I put two and two together and came up with the radical concept of a new blogpost, possibly partly motivated by slight panic at the thought that I might otherwise actually be in bed before midnight on a Sunday.
Firstly, and because no blogpost of mine would be complete without a mention of Bradley Whitford, I must quote the great man himself, with apologies to those of you who have read this a million times before on this very blog.
(Pause here for a few minutes while I use this as an excuse to distract myself by googling him, in the interests, you understand, of journalistic integrity. Or something.)
"... Want to write more than you want to be a writer. Life is too challenging for external rewards to sustain us. The joy is in the journey."
My point being, not just that Bradley Whitford is very wise, on top of all his many other qualities, but also that number one on my list of things I love about writing ought to be this:
The process itself. Sitting down with my coffee and my writing music (a mixture of classical music, easy listening Norah Jones type stuff and jazz) and entering another world. And that high you get. You know the one? Nothing else does that for me, though I'm told runners experience this. Is that an external reward? Probably. When I meet Brad I will get him to clarify. (Or he could comment right here...)
I feel like when I'm writing I'm doing what I was born to do. To paraphrase Eric Liddle, "God made me to love words, and I feel his pleasure when I write."
And when you feel you're doing it well, forming beautiful sentences and bringing characters to life, it's exhilerating. Really.
2. It's an excuse for doing all the other things I love, namely:
- Reading voraciously
- Learning new words
- Watching the West Wing (seriously - it inspires me! Plus, it so happens that two of my characters, Brad and Kate, are West Wing fans...)
- Listening to jazz (Brad is a jazz pianist, so...)
- Keeping up to date with American politics (Kate is a Senator, so...)
- Travelling (for research, and also because being in a new place seems to seriously inspire me.)
3, Escaping to another world.
Reality sometimes feels over-rated. My love life is non-existent, and has been for so long I prefer not to keep tabs on it anymore. In the world of my novel, I get to be someone else and be in love with a beautiful man (though I do get my heart broken, which is perhaps not so great).
I admit that this part of it can be unhealthy and that my head-in-the-sand tendencies which were already considerable are now insurmountable. But still, it's a lot of fun.
It's brilliant to create characters and see them come to life on the page, go and hang out with them for a few hours a day.
4. I am never bored.
There is always something to observe, a conversation to "accidentally overhear", a detail to scribble in my notebook.
5. There is the vague hope that one day I might be a published author. Maybe even a famous one.
Yes, yes, Bradley, I heard you when you said the joy was in the journey. However, I can't say that any of these things would be unpleasant:
- Having a fan page on Facebook with more than two members. (It's here, if you're interested.)
- Seeing my name (well, my pen name) in print
- Reading positive reviews about myself
- Maybe making some money
6. Apart from the world of my book, it also allows me to indulge some other fantasies, like:
- Sending it to Brad, and to Janel Moloney (who, in my head, are two of the actors on screen when it's a film) and hearing back from them that they love it.
- Brad saying he wants to write the screenplay
- Generally getting to meet loads of cool, famous people (Yes, yes. They are just people. I know. But.)
I know you're judging me for that right now. The fact is, though, I'd be willing to bet that all writers have those fantasies. It's just that only some of us admit it. Also, some of us allow them to develop further than others do.
7. Bringing other people pleasure
The first (and so far, only) person to have read a draft of Inevitable from beginning to end loved it. She cried! She wanted more! She couldn't stop reading even though she was getting up early the next day! I want to do that for people. I want them to laugh and cry and miss their stop on the tube because they got so caught up in the book. This probably ought to have been nearer the top of the list, but there you go, it's late, I'm tired and if I moved it further up, having only just thought of it, I would feel hypocritical.
8. It allows me to develop all my other interests
This might sound like I'm repeating point 2, but allow me to expand. I'm one of those people for whom the following book was written: "The Renaissance Soul: life design for people with too many passions to pick just one". I am such a person. And I've always felt as a result that life felt a bit messy (although, possibly the, erm, mess in my life also contributes to this). Writing gives me a framework, a reason for all those passions: they can be articles! Ideas for novels! Short stories! They all meet in that one goal and that is oddly satisfying. Anyone else feel like that?
9. It allows me to meet really interesting people
Writers are great people to be around. Possibly because they love Scrabble.
10. A tangeible result
Sometimes life can feel a bit plod, that you're doing the same thing day in, day out, that your business is not particularly growing, that nothing new is happening, that you have no answer to that dreaded question: "what's new?". This is particularly true when all your friends have a nice two-year cycle of Exciting News going: I've met a guy! I'm engaged! I'm married! I'm pregnant! I'm pregnant again! etc.
These days, when people ask me what I'm doing with my life, I acutually have an answer, and although this novel has had a longer gestation period than human babies, it is growing, and doing many of the other things that babies do, like taking over my life and messing with my sleep patterns. And at the end of it, I will have a real, physical thing and I will be able to say I DID IT! And that's quite exciting.
So, there you are. There are some of my reasons, and I've probably missed many out. What are yours?