Writing With Invisible Ink
This post has nothing to do with the creative writing process and everything to do with the consequences of being a writer. So, I won’t discuss how I start a writing project, continue through the process, or how I push toward its completion. I’ll leave that post for another time. This post is about living with the consequence of being a writer. I can hear some of you saying, “Whaaaat? They’re consequences?”
So, yeah, as a writer, you feel in your element when you’re alone at your writing station, typing along, click-clacking to the creative thoughts in your mind, hearing your characters speaking to each other, hearing yourself speak dialogue to check for proper syntax, and so on. It makes you feel good. And, on some days, it makes you feel great. You smile as your imagination unfolds onto the notebook or computer screen. My fellow writers out there know what I’m saying, right?
Okay, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the “down time,” the time in between your next writing session. See, typically, when I’m not writing, I’m thinking about story elements, plot, plot twists, characters, dialogue, location, that kind of stuff, even when I’m standing in line at the local supermarket or riding the subway or wherever, I try to find something, anything that I could use for a story. I call it, “Character research and development” (you can put that one in your pocket). Sometimes, I return to my writing station with something interesting to pursue; and other times, I return with nothing more than a mild headache and a morsel or two, nothing really good.
As a writer, I’m always searching for creative fodder, consciously and subconsciously. Isn’t this a good thing? Yes and no. Yes, because it keeps your imagination healthy and active, and no, because, sometimes, your (non-writer) friends find it hard to see (imagine) what you see, leaving them secretly envious or concerned about your “overactive imagination” (either way, it’s all good). In other words, most writers are constructing and deconstructing reality most of the time, adding the “what if” to any given situation. We’re looking for possible plot lines.
Another consequence of being a writer is that, in most cases, it takes me longer to tell a simple story compared to other people. I think it’s because I get caught up with the minor details, for example, like the color of the bank teller’s fingernail polish or if a room’s walls were painted or wallpapered or the condition of a stranger’s lips, hair, nose, eyebrows, you get the idea, right? I get hung up on minor details, and most people simply want to hear the point or punch line of the story. Minor details help a written story, but not so much for a dinner party story (note to self: cut and trim for your audience’s attention span). You know what I’m saying.
Wow, this blog is getting way too long, so I’ll end it here. Yes, I’m hitting on the brakes and skidding to a stop on this blog. I could go on, but why? I think I made my point. There are consequences to being a writer, consequences that stretch beyond the obvious ones, like actually writing day in and day out (sore hands and wrists), the so-called writer’s block, lack of money, drinking too much, all the stereotypical ones that most (non-writers and even some writers) believe to be absolutely true (some are true and some are not and are just romantic… ah, the tortured artist, toiling at the typewriter by candlelight… yawn.).
Writing is similar to most anything else: you show up, put your butt in the chair, and put in the time. Some days are better than others. Some days you win, and some days, well, hell, you showed up to play. And, that’s what’s really important, right? You showed up and took your position on the field. As far as consequences go, yeah, they’re present and unavoidable, but what else would you rather do than write? Think about it….