Your Girl-Tuesday here.
As Claire said, this week we’re all going to take a shot at answering the question – Why do I write?
I have to tell you that this is a very difficult question for me to answer. It’s difficult because my gut reaction is to answer, “Because I suck at everything else,” and that makes me sound like a complete Looo-ser! (Are you picturing me with my thumb and forefinger plastered to my forehead? Good.) But even more importantly, that statement isn’t exactly true.
Bear with me while I explain.
As I mentioned in our welcome message, I’ve been a storyteller for as long as I can remember. What I didn’t mention is that I only started writing a few years ago—in the literal sense. Oh, I’ve dabbled over the years, but most of my storytelling took place Here. I’m tapping a finger to my temple now. (Bet you didn’t expect to get so many cool visuals with this post.) What writing I did, I did on the sly—too nervous, and yes, embarrassed to let anyone know.
And do you want the truth about my fledgling stories? Well, here it is: They sucked. Big Time Sucked. In fact, they were the suckiest suck to ever hit a piece of paper. I mean it. They were bad.
Are you getting the picture?
Say it with me… “Why were they so bad, Jen?”
Oh-ho! I’m so glad you asked that question. I’ll tell you why they were bad. They were bad because I was downright lazy when it came to writing. You see, I had this romantic idea of what “writing” was supposed to be. I thought it would all be soooo easy. That I’d sit down at a keyboard and pages upon pages of pure magic would flow from my fingertips. That whatever I wrote would be a bestseller, and that writing that Next Big Thing would take no more than a couple of weeks—a month, tops.
Are you laughing yet? Yeah, me too.
As I’m sure you’ve guessed by now—when reality collided with the fantasy, a bestseller it did not make.
So how does this explain my opening statement? Well, it illustrates my point. You see, I’m a girl who likes to live inside her head. When writing proved too difficult, I went on to the next “fantasy” career. This time I would be a singer! Or maybe a lawyer. A marine biologist. No, no no…I should go into the FBI! (Did you guess there was a movie involved with each of these decisions?)
Okay, I’m really not that flighty. I had legitimate reasons for wanting to do all of those things. I can sing—I had a voice minor in college and one of my vocal instructors urged me to shoot for Broadway. I did in fact do undercover work that I thought would lead to my joining the FBI. And I went to law school and got my JD. (I’m at a loss to explain the marine biology thing. Especially since I hate science and went to a college that’s land-locked by cornfields.) That said—the reality of actually doing these things never lived up to the fantasy I had created in my head.
Why? Because I’m a storyteller. Always have been, always will be. It just took a while for me to realize that I couldn’t trick myself into a career I didn’t love with silly romantic notions. Not when my heart and mind would always be longing to do something else.
Namely, I wanted to write. Great. One problem, though. I still didn’t know how to.
I won’t bore you with the details of that particular journey. Suffice it to say that writing isn’t easy for me. I struggle each and every day to plant my butt in the chair. I struggle each and every day to transfer the image I have in my mind to the page. Most days I think every word I write is Total Suckage. Most days I think I should chuck it and go figure out that marine biology thing.
But I won’t.
Because sometimes I do find the right words. Sometimes I’m able to create magic.
And if I can make readers laugh or cry right along with me, then I know I’ve done my job well.
Yes, the reality of writing is a lot harder than I ever thought it would be. (Can you believe there are no music montages involved? Not even short ones. ) And most days I probably do more hair-pulling than actual writing. In truth, though, I can’t imagine living my life any other way.
My stories are who I am.
That’s why I write.