“You can approach the act of writing with nervousness, excitement, hopefulness, or even despair – the sense that you can never completely put on the page what’s in your mind and heart. You can come to the act with your fists clenched and your eyes narrowed, ready to kick ass and take down names. You can come to it because you want a girl to marry you or because you want to change the world. Come to it any way but lightly. Let me say again: you must not come lightly to the blank page.”
~ Stephen King, On Writing
I spend a good amount of time thinking about words. How words affect our daily lives, our hearts, emotions… the goals we set, or the despair we put upon ourselves.
That probably isn’t too surprising for a writer—and an avid reader—who immerses herself in writing and books as many hours of the day as she can squeeze in.
I’m a fan of Stephen King’s book On Writing. My copy is well-worn and has it’s own spot in my bookshelf. His point—quoted above— about coming to the blank page seriously resonates within me. Once written, words live on forever, especially now in the world of computers. We have a responsibility to be careful with what we send out into the world.
Words affect people. They hurt, help, entertain, inform, encourage, transport love or carry hate to the corners of the earth.
Sometimes we fire off our words like a weapon carelessly loaded, not very well aimed. We regret it when they splatter the target but it’s hard to take them back. Hard to erase what’s already been written. Hopefully, we learn to respect the mighty weapons of the pen and keyboard.
Sometimes we won’t put pen to paper out of fear of not having the exact right words. We have so much respect for the written word that the page stays blank and no words are written at all. Our opinion is silent. Our words go unheard. Our thoughts are lost among the chatter of others braver than ourselves. The fear of being seen and heard is palatable. The pain of being invisible time and time again is worse. We are stuck, lost in the indecision, as the words build up inside of us, clogging our soul.
Sometimes we find the words we wanted to say and capture them on paper. The exhilaration of connecting with the perfect word is worth every moment of suffering. Then we wait for the approval of the audience. The acceptance we secretly seek but are afraid to admit to. Then comes the torture of knocking on doors, selling our writing. The fear of rejection and public disgrace that is as much of the job of writing as the finding of words.
No one said the life of a writer was going to be easy.
Is it any wonder that Hallmark has already written cards that all you have to do is sign your name to without having to take a chance at having to write even a single sentence? Is it any wonder that sock drawers and underwear drawers all across the world are filled with half-completed novels and stories going nowhere?
The written word is powerful and frightening. Announcing the intent to call yourself a writer or to say you are writing a book or that you plan to earn your living writing (especially online) will get you a good number of sideways glances and condescending looks. Even from people who mean well. It takes a great deal of resolve to get up every day and face the pen and keyboard in the face of adversarial stress from the words themselves and their human counterparts.
How do writers face the morning ready to take on the challenge of the written word?
For me, love conquers all. Sounds silly but it’s the closest I can come to an honest answer. I write because I have a love and passion to write and I have been writing since I was a small child. Writing is how I express myself and let my true emotions come forth. Sometimes I find that words get stuck in my throat and won’t make it out of my mouth, but they will find their way out of my pen or keyboard. Once I’ve seen what I have written, then I can get a true handle on what I really feel.
When writing fiction, I listen. I listen to my dreams, the quiet whispers of characters in conversation in my mind while I am busy doing other things. I eavesdrop on them when they think I’m not listening at all. Most of the time, despite our best laid plans, Deb and I have no idea what our characters are going to do until they tell us on the page. It’s as much of a surprise for us as it will be to the readers. One important trait for a fiction writer is that we have to be able to bend. Words don’t like to be tied down. They want to flow.
I have no choice in the matter of writing. Not if I want to live any kind of sane life. If I didn’t write I would fill up with an overflow of words until I burst. So, the obstacles are something I have to overcome. I have to write. It isn’t an option to me. And I love it. I wouldn’t want life any other way.
How about you? How do you handle the written word?
Do you have a love affair with words? How do you manage it?
Want more of Life’s Little Inspirations? Want to be a part of our fun community? Please join us in the comment section with your thoughts and comments. We are glad to have you here!