Monday, September 12, 2005

That "Something"

Tambo asks in her blog entry for September 11, 2005, Why Do You Write? It's a question writers ask all the time because it fascinates us to find out why other people write. I think there are a lot of layers in this question. I've seen people answer it as "Why do I put words on a page?" I've seen people answer it as "Why do I want to be published?" I've seen people answer it as "Why do I want to write stories?" The answer seems to depend on how the question is interpreted.

I don't know why I write. I know that when I was 10 my best friend and I read a lot of Nancy Drew. We played Nancy Drew, pretending there were secret passages and clues in our suburban mass-produced tract homes. AHA! "If we can play new Nancy Drew stories, I could make up my own," said my child's mind. It was a short leap from there to the non-Nancy Drew mystery story I wrote for a classroom assignment. And an even shorter leap to writing a story just because I wanted to.

I wrote the usual angst-ridden poetry many teenagers wrote. I also wrote a song or two. I conned a couple of teachers into letting me write fiction instead of a standard research paper. I did the research and turned the results into stories about the people I'd researched. It was fun and I always seemed to get As on that stuff.

It took me a few more years to decide I wanted to try my hand at novels. Thank Star Trek reruns for that one. I didn't like Star Trek when it first came on. I used to give my brother a hard time for watching it. But a few years later, I was watching every rerun I could find and buying every novel in the stores. I decided to write a Star Trek novel. I wrote a very bad outline. I wrote notes for an even worse story. I wrote the usual three chapters people who don't know what they're doing write before they run out of steam. Then Paramount stopped taking unsolicited manuscripts and I stopped writing Star Trek. I moved on to original fiction.

I got married. Wrote bad stuff. Read writing books. Wrote more bad stuff. Had kids. Got busy. I kept writing. Not every day. I wasn't anywhere near as disciplined as the pros I know do. I'd go for months or years without writing anything. I kept everything. Every so often, something made me pull it out and write some more on it. Or put ideas in my file for writing when I finished whatever project I was sporadically working on.

The reason I write is that mystical "something" that caused me to pull out my writing and write. It's that same "something" that caused my books on writing collection to expand. It's that same "something" that caused me to scour the Internet for an online writing group when life stuck me in a town I didn't want to move to. I found Forward Motion and avidly read every article Holly Lisle wrote. You can find them on her web site: HollyLisle.com.

I met a lot of wonderful writers, some published and some not. Becoming active on FM got me evaluating my goals, what I wanted from my writing. I still wrote and more regularly. Things got weird. We had the layoffs and moved in with Mom. That's a difficult situation and we'd expected to be back on our own by this time. Didn't happen. I'd taken a hiatus from writing this summer. I didn't think I could handle living with Mom and arranging to move and write my novel. And I was fine with not working on the book for a couple of months.

Life intervened again. We're back to not knowing when or if we'll have enough income to rent an apartment in expensive Silicon Valley. I'm not fine with not writing under those circumstances. That "something" is calling its siren call. I'll be miserable if I don't listen, so it's time to rearrange the schedule and get back to work.