Why do we write?
The greatest thing about writing is that it is an absolutely free (okay, you paid for the laptop, or the note-pad) activity, that allows you to vent your creativity in all of its multi-coloured splendour! And boy do I have a few colours: novel writing, script writing, blogging, editing, forums, fanfic… Depending on my mood, I dabble in a different format. I tend to write to relax; it helps me to calm down and to feel at one with myself again in this crazy world.
My world is a busy one: I teach full time, run a home, write and am hoping for the sound of tiny footsteps this year so writing, for me, is a breathing space. I’ve even been known to consider a Friday evening in with my laptop and a glass of wine as pleasure time!
It’s the people who sigh and say ‘I have a novel hiding in me’, or ‘I could be a writer if I had the time’ – who are definitely not writers. Like I mentioned earlier, it’s pretty much free and you can also partake any time, any place, anywhere! Not too many excuses can be made for why you could be one, if you didn’t work, didn’t have children, didn’t blah-blah-blah. Just grab half an hour here, half an hour there… before you know it, you’re 10000 words into a novel; or you’ve created a new blog; or you’ve edited a friend’s work for them (better than beating yourself up for half an hour, thinking about the things you could have done but now you can’t get that time back).
People talk about work/life balance, but I don’t think that it’s worded quite right. Try Joy/work balance. If my job was writing, I don’t think I’d mind working until all hours to meet a target because I’d be excited about it but I sure do mind the idea of marking school books, or planning lessons until the wee small hours. So, my challenge is to reduce my teaching hours and extend my writing hours until the better man wins. Baby steps and patience is a good mantra to adopt at this point!
Having finished my first children’s novel ‘Whispers in the Attic’, I’m now working with an artist to design the cover-art (very exciting) and the next step is a website and formatting for e-books etc. Whilst the business-side of writing takes over, I thought I may as well get started on a new novel: ‘Grey Ghost Investigations’ (YA fiction/Paranormal Thriller). This book really suits my mood at the moment.
Another reason for writing: ‘Grey Ghost’ is just the escape I need from what has turned out to be a difficult year for me both personally and at work. Writing is my own therapist’s couch. I have fallen for my new character in a big way and developing him is absolute fun – I only hope that this enthusiasm is being communicated successfully to the reader. This book contains a lot of energy and should come with a health warning. I’m attempting to capture humour, horror and quirkiness through a mismatched crime partnership who you will love to hate. This craft is preserving my sanity!
I’m not published yet, so why do I keep going regardless? It’s because I’m a writer, it is what I do. Some people paint, some people cook, or garden – I write and always will. If I’m not in the mood for the novel, then I also do what I call a fun diversion: I’ll co-spew fan-fic for an old 80’s television series called ‘Moonlighting’- not only is it a great experience working with someone else, it gives me a chance to write in my favourite genre, plus it has an instant fan-base and you get automatic feedback, unlike the lonely novel journey. This writing is like eating chocolate – just delicious but empty calories (I know that it’s the novel that will push me further forward in my journey to becoming a full-time writer).
I am also re-teaching myself screen-writing (something I studied at University but I feel a little rusty) – and have a great idea for a comedy series that I might just finish for fun! My absolute dream job would be to work for a television series, I love the idea of that whole creative process – maybe I’ll submit my pilot in a competition or something.
I was partaking in a conversation with a group of like-minded friends the other day, when the subject of dreams and fantasies came up (it happens a lot in my line of work). It turns out that my fantasies have shifted over the years from the far-fetched ideals of 18 year old me: I want to be a famous actress, to wanting to find the perfect guy, to what I now call my more mature fantasy: I dream of lunches with publicists; being offered an exciting writing opportunity; getting the chance to work with a great writer; to leave my day job! A huge jump from my earlier yearnings… but hey, this is what fills my head space now when I’m running on that tread mill, or invigilating for an exam! What it was great to note was that all of these people still had dreams. I found that strangely reassuring.
So why do we write? Because we have to, because it’s our mental work out, our version of the marathon, and it’s what we crave to do in our ‘spare’ time. I’m not a snob when it comes to this activity either, don’t get me wrong, I adore reading fine literature but I must admit, when it comes to writing, I do so to have fun, so often I end up writing YA fiction as it supplies me with the entertainment that I need. Despite being in my thirties, Charlaine Harris is one of my heroes – her books are like a drink of cola on a hot, dry day when that is the only thing that will quench a particular thirst!
Talking of that thirst…I better go and write another couple of hundred words of ‘Grey Ghost’. Can’t wait to introduce him to you!