Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Why We Write: Words of Wisdom from the Trenches

Once again, I was wrestling with my current Work in Progress. I knew what had to happen, knew the characters involved, and knew how it all fit into the grand scheme of my story. Sometimes the words flow like wine. Or hot chocolate. Or - sweet ecstasy - Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee.

Friday, however, was not one of those times.

For an entire afternoon, I wrote page after page, only to realize how awful it was. (I'm not being precious here. I'm fully capable of recognizing dreck when I see it. Even when it's mine. Especially when it's mine... ~sigh~)

I wrote 3 pages, then performed a mercy killing and began again. Lather. Rinse Repeat. At the end of the bloodletting, only 3 paragraphs remained standing.

I felt like the early settlers who, when pushing across the heavily wooded Midwest could labor all day beginning at sunrise, then at sunset look behind them and see where they had started.

And so, I turned to Twitter. Because no other place online makes me realize that we all endure the same process. I asked a simple question:

In spite of rejection, caffeine shortages, sleepless nights & tetchy muses, what keeps you #amwriting?

Here's what my brothers and sisters in the trenches had to say:

@Pages2Type:  If I stopped, my wife would have to hear all these things. If write them down, it keeps me sane... well, sane-ish.

@DaleEstey: To find out what happens.

:  I keep writing because the characters just won't shut up.

@trudymorgancole: My dad (a publisher) once had to explain to someone how little $ most pubbed authors make. Person (aghast): "Why do they do it??"

Dad's response? "They can't help themselves."

Truer words were never spoken. We can't help ourselves. Furthermore, I, for one, don't wish to.

Why do you write? What keeps you at it, especially on days when the words won't dance with you, or your characters aren't talking to you, or your family just shakes their collective heads in disbelief? I encourage you to add your words of wisdom in the comments below.


wordboy said...

To paraphrase Robert A. Heinlein, I keep writing because it hurts less to write than it does not to write.

Ami Hendrickson said...

Wordboy --

Ah, that is SO true! Non-writing causes great pain: both to me and to those unfortunate enough to be in my immediate vicinity. :)

Paula Tavolaro said...

How can you let all these thoughts in your head just fly away? How can you let that seemingly perfect idea just slip away and never come back? I am sure to forget the things I don't write. Writing makes me sane, and makes the lives of the people around so me much better...