I used to be a writer.
I wrote my first poem at age three. Honestly. Since I could not yet create the letters on a page my mother wrote down the words I had spoken. I still have that piece of paper tucked away in a box somewhere.
As a school aged child I wrote short stories for class projects. In middle school and high school I did a little creative writing. I journaled. I wrote down my thoughts. Hardly anyone ever looked at that writing, except for a small handful of English teachers.
Then I was a news writer. Radio news is an animal unto itself. You write for the ear, with the belief that listeners will hear about half of what you speak and will understand or assimilate only about half of what they hear. At least that’s always been my theory. So that writing was always crisp, clear, and direct.
Radio news writing morphed into newspaper writing, bringing me to the stark realization that people care more about their news when it’s in print. Virtually identical articles for the radio and newspaper carry different weight in the minds of the listener/reader. Pieces that no one ever commented on for the radio were suddenly fodder for discussion after they were placed on a page.
For some time my writing turned to public relations pieces, news releases, and annual report articles for small non-profits. This type of writing actually bores me, since it often doesn’t so much as tell a story as it reviews facts and figures, announces upcoming events, or recaps some pedestrian series of occasions and initiatives.
Beginning this blog moved me back towards some of my creative writing roots. And then this month I signed on to NaNoWriMo. It was a last minute decision to try to write a novel in 30 days. I signed up just as October was winding to a close. I agonized over this decision for all of thirty minutes, and then decided there was nothing to lose. Absolutely nothing.
Now, just over one week in, I realize that there is everything to gain. I am writing as never before; weaving a plot line with descriptive passages and character studies. This feels brand new to my former writer self. There are hours when I can barely contain the words flying from my brain through my fingers and into my story. There are also hours when I have to concentrate on what comes next for these starring characters.
Several things have occurred to me as I write. I absolutely will finish this story. Whether it will meet the NaNoWriMo criteria of 50,000 words in 30 days no longer matters to me. If it takes a little longer to make it into what I want it to be that’s okay, but this artificial deadline and impetus to start have certainly created compelling reasons for me to write – or at least stripped away the reasons not to. I will work towards the deadline, because that’s what deadlines are for. And if no one but me likes my story when it’s done, I won’t really care. This is not about the reader. It’s about my story.
My story. I never really wrote one before. Not like this. Not with the purpose and compassion and focus and complete emotional abandon that I have invested in this story. And I used to be a writer.