Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Writer: A Water Balloon That Plays With Fire

Being a writer is like being a water balloon with holes poked in it. For each hole, you can let a story escape. If you start too many stories without finishing, you’ll drain yourself.  If you don’t let the stories out, you may explode. A good writer can write about anything. They can be given a mundane topic and make it interesting. They can talk about what they know and make up what they don’t. A creative writer can make the story interesting in a way that you never expected.
Have you ever woke up from a dream and thought that it was a fascinating story? Then when you try to tell somebody else about the story, it ends up being uninteresting or confusing. This is what it’s like to be a writer. Every. Single. Time.

One of the most common questions that people ask writers are where their stories come from. While this is person-specific, I feel comfortable stating that there really isn’t a place that stories don’t come from. This is where people confuse creativity with writing.  Creativity can be spawned from anything. It can be the dream that you couldn’t explain. It could be the thought of what you would do differently as you read a story or watched a movie. It could be that trail that you were led down during a drunken discussion. Creative people know how to let their minds wander. They let themselves have thoughts like ‘What would happen if a person ate a zombie’s brains?’ or ‘What do circus freaks do when they retire?’ This is harnessing creativity, but not being a writer.

A writer has to put in work to create a story. They have to add details and trim unnecessary ones. Most stories start as an ember, a spark that’s not really that different from the bed of ashes that it sits upon. A writer’s job is to breathe air onto the spark and to give it kindle. Stories are like fire in that they have life and will take you places that you don’t intend, or sometimes, don’t want. While their beginnings may start as a spontaneous combustion in your brain, stories are built. I have never had a complete story come to me at once. They may exist, but they are the literary hole-in-one. In the history of the world, there has never been a golfer that has hit a hole-in-one the very first time that they’ve swung a club. Likewise, the first story that anybody writes won’t be the greatest story ever told.  

A writer is rarely happy. They will spend countless hours working on a story knowing that they will have to go over it later, to edit, revise and hone. A writer will spend countless hours talking to themselves to see if dialogue from an imaginary character sounds real. A writer will spend countless hours crossing out words or phrases and drawing arrows across their words. They are rarely happy because they know that they’ve failed to fully capture the felling that they possessed in their dream. A writer’s hope is that nobody else has had the same dream and explained it better.

Euphoria is the exact moment when a story is finished. It wears quickly because after countless hours used to put all of those words in the exact spot that a writer wanted, those words are released to the world. Released to people that may not like or understand what they had written. While it’s a great moment when that euphoria is passed on to somebody else that makes a connection to their writing, it doesn’t matter because the writer has moved on to the next story.

Do you agree? How do you tell people what it's like to be a writer?

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