Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Writing Destinations

One aspect of the journey of writing is finding what you’re supposed to write and the way you’re supposed to write it. This will evolve, of course, but finding your voices and your subjects is one part of the process. Most writers do have a few themes they explore again and again in different ways and stories.

You may write a lot of bad stories and novels learning the craft and finding your voices and subjects and themes. Alas, I have. Millions of wasted words if you want to look at it that way. I don’t. I don’t think any of them were wasted. They all took me a little further along. Now if you were to ask me along to where I could talk about learning the craft and art of writing or discovering a few things about life along the way. But I couldn’t really say where in any final destination kind of way. Writing, for me, isn’t about reaching a place; it’s about the long, arduous journey to THERE even if I can’t articulate where or what THERE is.

Faulkner said he was never completely successful when he wrote. He made some comparison between writing and climbing a mountain. He tried to climb literary mountains with each new work. But his words never took him to perfection, never took him to the very top. If they had though, he speculated, he probably would have fallen off the other side.

Writing offers wonders. You’ve got to enjoy them. Yes, finish manuscripts. You must do that, too. But once a manuscript is done, it’s like a finished experience. A memory. Good memories are nice, sure, but they aren’t like experiencing the real thing, life. And yes (and this is one of the mysteries of writing) sitting on your butt in front of a computer making things up can make you feel startlingly alive. SO, here’s my point. It’s pretty simple. Stop and smell the damn roses. Realize that the best part of being a writer is writing. When a manuscript is done and it goes off on its way to be published that’s nice, but it pales to the experience of creation.

At the risk of stating the obvious, not so different from life. Rushing from thing to thing, you miss some pretty nice moments. And where are we rushing? In the end, we all reach the same place. In the end, we have the same destination. I, for one, am in no hurry to get there.

Or so I think today.


Taylor K. said...

Made me think of some of my early stuff from the days I first started writing. Back in those days I just started accessing my imagination, and what it usually did was just explode in an ugly mixture of every possible idea that popped into my mind. It was bad.

That said I wish I still had that stuff as a record of my journey from there to where I am now. Having been writing for over 10 years now there still always seems to be the ability to get better, and that's one of the most fascinating things about writing. One can master language, how to ride a bike, a video game, and many other things, but it seems writing is one thing that just can't be mastered. It's this mysterious thing that just seems to always change as time goes by.

Brian Yansky said...

I remember those days. I had a lot of them. Every once in a while I still have one.
I agree with you about writing. I think that's one of the great things about it. You get better, you learn how to do certain things, but every new story is a new world and it challenges what you've learned.