Me and these writing fingers of mine

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Jessica of The Simple Pleasure of Reading asked, nay, challenged me to talk about my writing and what I'm working on now.  And since part of my tag line is that I am a challenge accepter, I must accept said challenge.

(BTW, I love that I got to accept a challenge from a commenter.  What else you got?)

Let's first start with why I write.  I skimmed the first few chapters of this book and one of the things that caught my eye was the idea that reading is considered necessary for the masses while writing gets elevated as a fine art for the privileged few.  What an interesting contrast!  If you think about it, it does kind of exist that way.  We like to think that reading and writing are both signs of literacy, but writing does get the prestige where the two are concerned.  If you read well, you may read faster or gain more content than the average reader.  If you write well, you can make a good living and receive tons of accolades.

This concept was not lost on me as a child.  My mother worked at a university press for nearly her entire career, and both my sister and I spent years working there while in college.  Books were a given in our family.  They were squeezed onto bookshelves, lined up under desks, stuffed into boxes, or simply waiting to be read on a coffee table.  Reading was something you did with your free time.  It was omnipresent in our lives.

My mother also happens to possess an MFA in Poetry from an Ivy League institution.  She devours words almost as quickly as she can write them.  And today she's writing her own novels and querying and doing all of the things I want to be doing.

Reading and writing are in my blood.  But that still doesn't answer why I choose to write.

The first creative writing I can remember doing was a project in elementary school where we had to write a book.  Mine was about a ballerina.  Since I was also a dancer, it made sense, and I didn't write again for some time because I was so busy at 8,453 dance classes a week.  But I still remember vividly how proud I was to see that book in all of its laminated construction paper glory and know that those words were mine.

When I was in junior high, I began to write poetry.  Really terrible, angsty, dark teenaged poetry.  Truly awful stuff.  Still, it was a nice outlet for my emotions at the time and it taught me the power of using words to communicate what I was feeling.  Many of the things I scribbled in those notebooks I could never have spoken aloud, but getting them on the page was a way of acknowledging those feelings and giving them a voice.

I took a creative writing class in high school that I adored.  It was during summer school, and we got to sit outside among the trees and write to our heart's content.  I really enjoyed fiction writing, and just writing in general.  Between the poetry and the class, writing became a part of me, and it's something I kept coming back to.

In college I was a theater major, and spent most of my time there.  Writing became an outlet for me to manage my stress.  I started writing daily at an online diary community.  I wrote about my life, my struggles, and also the occasional fiction piece.  I still write there today.

When I moved out of state and got a big girl job, I nearly left writing entirely.  I couldn't figure out who I wanted to be, or what I wanted to do.  I knew I liked to write, but all of the things I tried to do that involved writing never fit.

I saw an ad on the L platform one day for StoryStudio Chicago.  I signed up for a Beginning Fiction class with a friend of mine in 2008 and fell in love with the place.  Shortly afterwards I was admitted to graduate school and didn't have the time to take another class there until this past fall, when I signed up for a class dedicated to writing for children and young adults.  It's where most of my work leans, and the class only proved to me that this was a perfect fit.  Writing is, and always has been, my passion.

I'm currently working on a novel completed for NaNoWriMo that is a fantasy involving a 16 year old girl and her magical cougar with which she shares a special bond.  I also got a lightning bolt of an idea this weekend and want to start working on a middle grade novel about two kids, a theater, and time travel.

What I know when it comes to me and writing is simply this: I love it.  It makes me happy.  I get to flex my creative muscles that I spent years honing in dance and theater, and tell amazing stories that hopefully mean something to someone.  I write so that some teenager can someday pick up a book, get taken away from their daily life, and experience something that touches their soul.  I write so that all of this love for words and life and experiences can be communicated eventually, whether through a published book or simply for my friends and family as I go.

For me, writing is an art, an elevated form of communication that transcends everything.  Writing challenges me and lifts up my soul and moves me to tears.  I couldn't exist without it.

So who am I?  Well, I'm a writer.  What about you?


Jessica K. said...

What am I? I am speechless. Those are truly beautiful words that touched my heart. Wow.

loganeturner said...

You're too sweet. Thank you!

Holly said...

Lovely and well said. It seems like a lot of us writerly types have the sort of story that always comes back to pen and words on paper. :)

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