For me, the need to write builds up. I’ve started to think that if I don’t write when it gets built up, that the safety valve won’t hold. If I leave it too long I start to get agitated and mean about things around me. I guess it must be like running for some people, or even sex. It’s a form of release.
So lately, when I’ve been wondering if I read too much and am not really a writer, I’ve been fooling myself. Maybe I was hoping that it was true to let me off the hook. After all, I wouldn’t begrudge being allowed to read more than I already do. But I find that if I go more than a week, my brain starts to get crowded with the myriad ideas and thoughts that should be put down on paper (word doc). I’m by no means a prolific writer and the words I get out aren’t necessarily of much use to anyone but they are my thoughts and if I don’t do something with them, the safety valve is tested.
This has been my aha moment today: being a writer doesn’t mean that you have to write amazing material that can be turned into something that others may read, or the next great Australian novel. Being a writer is a form of expression like baking a cake, building a pergola or creating a rose garden. Creative expression is a fundamental part of what it is to be human and a way for us to make sense of the world.
The writing that I get out in my usual haphazard way may or may not be used as material for a more important piece of writing, like a short story or novel, but it doesn’t matter. I enjoy playing with ideas, playing with words. Sometimes I’ll just move words around, write out interesting titles, makes lists of ideas. For instance, I was looking for a word that could be used instead of ‘event’ because it didn’t feel like the right word. So I made a list of the synonyms: occurrence, incident, event, episode, happening. Then I had fun playing with those words in my head. Every word in the English language makes me ‘feel’ something, so studying and playing with those words was a lot of fun.
At other times I might write a few lines that discuss something that interests me that could become the seed for a story. Often these things come to me in the shower or while I’m driving. If I don’t get these ideas down, I forget what might be great little kernels for a story or a chapter in a novel.
Like many forms of expression, there is the need to justify any time devoted to them. Writing is no exception and many writers feel that if they aren’t earning money from their craft that it isn’t worthwhile. I say do what makes you happy. For me it’s the world of stories. The writing and the reading of them.
PS: Last week, when I wasn’t writing, I was reading The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. I’m starting to think that this is the next trend in writing after bad erotic fiction (50 Shades of what the? And hours I wish I had back). Bit of stalkerism, bit of crazy man/woman, bit of thriller. I did enjoy this page-turner although the end wasn’t really a surprise. Hawkins tries to put a few red herrings into the plot but they don’t really work. This doesn’t make it less readable but I wondered why she’s done it. The main character, Rachel, is pretty annoying and I did feel like yelling at her a few times but people are flawed and that’s what we like to read about.