Firstly, I wanted to apologize for not posting last Friday – the end of my week went sideways and Friday was no exclusion to the insanity. I did, however, manage to scrape a third place in a local contest. It was not a perfect work – I should have spent more time on it, actually, if I do say so myself – but I’m glad to have gotten third. One of my friends, however, got first! And rightly so, her work was beautiful, as always. If I actually wore a hat, I would tip it to her. “Next time, though, I’ll get first, danggit!” (So shouts my inner muse.) I won a $10 gift card to Barnes and Noble for my efforts!
I have, however, had some time to think during the past week and, as they often do, my thoughts wandered to the craft of writing. What makes a person a writer? Well, many things. People tend to have this fantastical idea of the writing folk. They assume we are a conglomeration of solitary strangers locked up in rooms for hours on end, typing on a keyboard or scribbling on paper, only to emerge, amid crumpled-up ideas and ink-stained coffee cups, with a completed – and best-selling – novel. People who do not write believe that people who do, do so alone. And, sometimes, that’s true. For some people, the writing process is a solitary creature, waiting to capture authors in its lonely gaping jaws and, sometimes, only death can relieve them of this existence.
But, for most, is writing truly a solitary process? Do writers truly write alone? I doubt it. Truthfully, writing can’t be a single-person process. We may believe we’re alone, but our friends and family support us as we type or scribble every word. The things we have learned in school guide us. We may come up with our own characters, but our fellow writer help flesh them out, give them meaning, and add new perspectives. (Especially if you belong to a writer’s group, which I highly suggest you try!) Even as we sit in the stillness of our rooms “locked away from the world,” the world is still with us, inspiring us. The blade of grass, that falling leaf, the certain look a stranger gave another are all with us. The books we have read linger in our minds, the characters we’ve loved and hated, the plotlines we’ve adored, the descriptions we’ve aspired to try, the authors of these works help us. And don’t think that odd quirk of an old friend won’t come back in some form or another. Even in the solitary place of our minds we are not alone, our inspiration is with us. Not in a physical form (although muses can be physical) but in the sense that our inspiration is there, our muses push us onward.
The act of writing may be done in a solitary place, but we are never alone, not in the true sense of the word. We have help from a myriad of places, of people, and of things. Sometimes, in the emptiness of our rooms, when the only sound comes from our fingers pounding the keyboard, it’s hard to remember the help we actually have. Writing isn’t a one-person process. We have too much outside help to believe it actually is.
So I return to my original question – what makes a person a writer? Well, a lot of things – dedication to the craft, a willingness to read and learn, and the ability to write is always a plus – but there is one other detail some people tend to overlook… help.
Till next time.
PostScript – I completed a rough outline for Book Two! This story just started a year ago with a single paragraph portraying a single emotion. Now, Book One is in the editing process and will soon be queried out and Book Two has a completed outline! Will the wonders never cease?