It started out as a vicarious activity. I wrote stories about things I wanted to experience. (“Write what you know” doesn’t work on this level.) For example: finding an island of living dinosaurs or hanging out with robots from another planet. This is still a pretty big motivator. I wish I could move things with my mind, teleport, and literally kick ass. At this time I can’t do any of those things so the writing will go on.
As to the act of writing I am an addict. Ever since I was kid I have loved notebooks, cards, stationary, paper, and pens. I’ve been taking notes in multiple colors since the fifth grade. This is still true today. I enjoy the physical act of writing, of leaving trails of colored ink on fields of white. The shaping of words, connected or otherwise, often leads to just name of my favorite characters written all over the back page of my current journal. (Have way too many journals.)
When it comes to the story my favorite part is the creating of people and their world. Names are of intense interest to me. I am sure this stems from the dislike of my own name. I think my name is horrifically boring. As a result, I gave my first character the name I would have wanted, Brenda. I have several name books. Whenever I hear a cool name it goes on my list. Names are important. We make assumptions about a person based on their name. A large majority of American corporations are led by Johns and Williams.
Creating is really a process of discovery. I feel like my characters and worlds already exist and I am just coming across them like an explorer in an undiscovered country. I really enjoy figuring out who these people are, why they do what they do, and helping them get out of their predicaments. Like many writers I am an observer of what happens. I don’t know where the story is going. My characters name themselves, get angry about things I didn’t expect, and perform acts of compassion out of nowhere. I am a recorder of events and I love it.
Currently, I am working on the third draft of my novel. As I re-read each scene I ask: where’s the tension, what is the purpose of this scene, and is it doing enough. These simple questions have lead to some major changes and a whole new level of discovery with my characters and the world. I thought I had them figured out pretty well. Turns out that imaginary people have as much capacity to surprise as real ones. Rewriting is difficult but so rewarding. It is my new favorite thing.
I will write even if I never have any readers. But like real people, my characters deserve to be known and appreciated for who they are and that is what motivates me right now. I am working hard to make their stories known to the rest of you. I hope you get the chance know them.
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