Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Stephen King and Allies in the War Against Blank Paper

It's been a beautiful few days here; sun bathed warm weather with just enough puffy clouds to make your imagination perk up.  Until yesterday afternoon anyway when the thunderstorm moved in, although even that was beautiful and made the house smell like summer rain.

I'm still technically in the midst of my month of "down-time" but writing is starting to creep steadily back into my life one small step at a time.  We all knew that it would be impossible to keep it waiting for long anyway, no matter how much the landscaping needs attention or how many dozens of cookies are waiting to be baked.

In my break from life, I've been reading a lot.  It's brought me back to when I was a kid, curled into as tight a ball as possible on the edge of the couch or tucked away in a dark corner of the bedroom where it's quiet and still, white-knuckling a book and oblivious to anything other than the words dancing in front of me.  Only now I'm not reading about tiny Indians locked away in magic cupboards or little girls with Telepathic abilities.  Now I'm reading about writing.

I have been fortunate that I've been able to find some very good books written not of the "how to" of writing, but on the "how it is being a writer; it's OK to be broke, alone and misunderstood".  Frankly, I find the form and function of writing to be incredibly boring.  Proper use of punctuation, pronouns and adverbs is more than I can bare to study, particularly since most readers don't have a Bachelors Degree in Literary Theory or whatever literary degrees there are.

As an aside, I'd like to insert here that college degrees are fantastic for those who are willing to sit through the classes to get them, or who aspire to be teachers in a conventional sense themselves.  I applaud all of you who have taken the time and expense to learn; I just don't have the ability to listen to a lecture that lasts more than 7.5 minutes - just ask my husband.

So, instead of reading about how to write properly with good form and perfect punctuation, I have been reading about what writing really is.  Stephen King is typically too horrifying and nightmare inducing for me to read, but his book On Writing, A Memoir of the Craft is fantastic.  In it, he likens writing to using telepathy that spans not only location, but also time.  I like this idea of writing.  When I write, and when I read, I really do "see" the images that the words are describing.  Even things which I have never seen before and will likely never visit can become ingrained in my field of vision when I'm writing, and then I get to share what I see with someone else.

I like the idea that Stephen King has had some of the same struggles I have had as a writer.  Writing is a very lonely business, and it can seem impossible if you don't have someone to fight the battle of exhaustion and distraction with.  I am pleased that this week I believe I've found more allies in my war against writers-block; two other writers who are also trying to finish their works of art and need a little feedback and pushing along themselves.  Two interesting women who have gotten past the saying, "I'd really like to write a book" and have actually written something.  It is amazing to me how many people I've met in the last few years who would "really like to write", and how few of them have actually written their opening sentences.

There are two major obstacles that you have to overcome when you want to write.  The first is finding someone who will support your decision and not tease you about your silly "hobby".  This is a daunting task, but if you advertise your intentions long enough you WILL find someone to support you.  The second obstacle is to start writing.  The first word, the first sentence and the first chapter are the hardest - but once you have them completed you are no longer just someone with an idea about a book.  You are a writer.
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