So tonight is going to be a slightly self-reflective kind of post, but I’m in a self-reflective type of mood, so… That’s where we’re going with this. To be honest, the last two weeks have been rough for me. Politics have kept me from getting focused on my writing, and I’m grappling with a sense of “should I be writing, or should I be protesting?” and not coming up with an answer I’m happy with. There are a lot of bad things happening in the country, and staying on task and focused, when it seems like some new terrible thing happens every half-hour, has been a struggle. So I think it’s important for me to take a point and be reflective about my writing. Why do I do it, why do I persist with and pursue it, why am I a writer?
I’ve mentioned before that, as a child, I read constantly. I had a rough time as a kid. I was bullied quite seriously from a young age, partially because I was an incredibly intelligent child (I was testing at high school levels when in second grade) and partially because I was so socially awkward. Long story short, I was a very easy target – obviously smart but completely unable to charm my way out of trouble. One of the ways that I found safety during those years was to lose myself in books. I was in gifted and talented classes during a time when one of the leading models was to offer open learning environments for kids. We were allowed to move about however we liked, work on assignments and projects as we liked, and as long as we got our classwork done, it didn’t really matter what we did during the day. I would blaze through my schoolwork – it was easy for me – and then I’d grab a book or two, find a corner of the room that I could shove my tiny body into, and then I’d read until the end of the day. I honestly don’t know how I got away with it, but it was how I found a safe space. Books and stories saved me, and I can’t help but think that it’s one of the main reasons I started writing. I’d found places to escape to, but they were never exactly what I wanted them to be. I started writing so I could take those worlds and shape them to fit my mold.
I don’t remember when I realized that maybe writing might be my thing. I know I’ve had a few instances throughout my life where I’ve written something, and it’s struck a chord with readers. I wrote a poem in grade school that led to a loud round of applause – a public sign of respect that I sorely needed at the time. I’ve also written fan fiction that has taken off and been recommended, both in relatively large fandoms (Harry Potter and MTV’s Teen Wolf, which both have huge communities online). I wrote an original piece of fiction about mountain climbers on Everest that I was fairly proud of that generated very positive responses (fair warning, it does center on a homosexual relationship, with an explicit scene at the beginning). All of that being said, I don’t know if I really stopped and thought to myself “I could do this” until Twilight came out.
I am not a fan of Twilight. I find the characters grating, the plot convoluted and poorly constructed, and the ending beyond comprehension. But I know so many people who love the book and the series. My mother-in-law is a huge fan of the books, and she’s tried to get me to read them all on multiple occasions. And every single time she’s tried, I have thought to myself I can do better. That’s honestly one of the main motivations for why I decided to do National Novel Writing Month. On top of that, I’d had a really cool dream that I thought I could expand into a novel, I had the free time, and I figured why not?
I didn’t talk about my book while I was writing it, but it was exhilarating. I was doing something I loved, with no pressure to succeed or fail, just a goal to reach every day. And I did. I wrote 50,000 words in a month, and I had the rough draft of a novel. I remember finishing those last hundred words, and having this sense of elation wash over me. I was so excited, and it had been a very long time since I’d felt that. I’d gone to graduate school to become a teacher, but had failed to find a teaching job after a year and a half of searching. I had taken a tech support job to pay the bills, then got a promotion about three months before my daughter was born. Instead of getting moved into a position where I was challenged, I found myself doing plug-and-play installations that took little thought or time. Work was monotonous and dull. My home life, while satisfying and a welcome respite from the unrelenting boredom at work, was stressful. I had a one-year-old daughter and a husband trying to run a pop culture convention. It was so nice to have something I enjoyed and was good at go well. And I thought maybe I can do this.
I’m now nearly at the end of the process. My book is written. I’ve received positive feedback. I’m starting to get some social media movement on it. It’ll be published in March, and then I have to sit and wait and see how it goes. I’ve never been patient, and I think part of the stress I’m feeling about my writing is related to that. I want to know if people like Burner. I want to be able to do this all the time. I have no idea how that’s going to turn out.
But I love writing. I love telling stories. I love offering people the opportunity to escape. And, if I could write full time, I would be tickled pink. With what’s happening in the US right now, there’s a lot to be worried about. The least I can do is make time for a little self-care in the form of writing. Stories have always been my escape. I might as well be productive about it, right?
Anyway, after all of that nonsense, I’ll try to get back on track with an actual post about writing on Friday. I’ll pick up my discussion of creating characters by talking about character voice and how to stay consistent with it. See you all then!