Because I Cannot NOT Write

June 20, 2012
By Jules

In the fourth grade, I wrote an essay about how my favorite place on earth was my grandfather's horse ranch with its sprawling groves of trees and winding streams. I remember feeling particularly brilliant as I wrote that essay, inventing this entirely fictional haven on wide-lined sheets of soft brown paper. My mother remembers being particularly horrified when the essay came home with a big fat A on it, as she was unaware that I had become such a boldfaced liar.

At the time, I may not have had the words to explain why my favorite place on earth was the spot directly in front of the old swamp cooler in my father's converted garage/rec room. God I loved the earthy moldy smell of that thing and the cool, wet air which bathed my face. I'd stand there, toes curled on the edges of a worn patch in the indoor-outdoor carpet while my sisters smacked balls with satisfying thuds into the pockets of the pool table behind me. It was my personal heaven. But a musty old swamp cooler is a strange thing for a fourth-grade girl to gush over and I was already strange enough, so even if I could have articulated that joy, I suppose it was easier to invent some glorious ranch instead.

 

I usually point to the “Grandfather's Horse Ranch” essay as the moment I decided to become a writer. but deep down, I don't believe that any of us “decide” to become writers. We either are or we aren't and the only decision-making we get to do is as follows:

 

  • Choose to admit that we are of the writerly persuasion
  • Commit the act of writing

Steven King famously said “Writers write.” and Hugh Prather mused “If the desire to write is not accompanied by actual writing, then the desire is not to write”. Some other pithy fellow penned the words “I am only a writer when I am writing.” While these are great motivational quotes, I would argue that they are inherently false. Before a single word hits that first page, writers think and by nature (and nurture, which we can discuss later) I think like a writer. Like being an addict, weaving stories is something about me that is unchangeable. If I chose not to commit another word to the page for the rest of my life, I would still be a storyteller, a questioner, an inventor of other worlds and a teller of tales. I can choose to actively engage this facet of my self but whether I do so or not, it remains part of the fabric of who I am.

 

But perhaps it is a matter of semantics. Maybe the subtle difference between WRITER and STORYTELLER is what confuses the issue. It is completely possible that Steven King and Hugh Prather and that other Dude 'O Letters are right. Perhaps I am a storyteller by nature and only a writer when I put the proverbial pen to paper.

 

What I DO know is this: The constant editing and revisions to my internal monologue take up entirely too much of my time. I write because I cannot NOT write. When I have gone through brief periods of abstinence I feel like some essential piece of myself is missing. In short, the act of finding the right words and stringing them together in the right order is the best feeling I know. I may be a writer by nature but I have to choose to accept that nature and to answer that call every single day.

 

 

 


    15 Responses to Because I Cannot NOT Write

    1. sue
      June 20, 2012 at 6:50 am

      I can sooo relate. I may not have written on my blog for awhile, but I am still writing… and hand in hand with that goes reading. If I don't always have a book "in progress" that I'm reading I feel lost. I'm very glad you all decided to start this site. Looking forward to all it has to offer!

      • Jules
        Jules
        June 20, 2012 at 10:37 am

        Books are like fuel. Words go in and words (hopefully) come out. 

    2. Bill Dorman
      June 20, 2012 at 10:06 am

      My blog started out as an afterthought because I thought you needed one to 'play' in social; now, I consider myself a writer because I like it so much and now I want to keep getting better at it.
      I just have to devote more time for it. 

      • Jules
        Jules
        June 20, 2012 at 11:08 am

        Having just nosily nosed around your blog, I'd guess that you've always had the THINK part down and just needed to let your writer loose. So glad you did.

      • Bullish
        June 20, 2012 at 12:39 pm

        You have an awesome writer's voice, Bill! It's a terrifice blend of irreverence, heart and smarts. I can't wait to get you addicted to fiction writing!!

        • Bill Dorman
          June 20, 2012 at 3:24 pm

          I think I'm already getting the bug…………:). 

          • Bliss
            Miss Bliss
            June 20, 2012 at 9:17 pm

            OH…this makes me giddy.

    3. Bullish
      June 20, 2012 at 10:26 am

      The darkest moments of my history are those when I was separated from books and blank paper.
      Presently, I cannot leave the house without a reading book (pr two), a blank notebook, and a half dozen pens!
      Stories are everywhere and those that I fail to capture, haunt me ceaselessly!!

      • Jules
        Jules
        June 20, 2012 at 10:47 am

        and they have to be GOOD pens. That is vitally important because a bad pen will kill the creative flow and kick in the whole "What is wrong with this pen?" focus. I hate that. 

    4. Bliss
      Miss Bliss
      June 20, 2012 at 10:34 am

      I actually find that I get kinda F'd up if I don't do some sort of writing on a regular basis.  The best is when I am getting in regular journal writing along with some structured fiction writing and the occasional political rant on my blog.  Then I'm feeding and releasing everything that needs feeding and releasing.  In the end I have a hard time making enough time for all of those even though my life is better when I do.  Then again…that whole "my life is better when I do XYZ so why don't I keep doing it?" quandry is an ongoing thing for me.  I like to tell myself it makes me interesting…but I'm pretty sure it just means I'm a dork.

    5. Sophie Moss
      June 20, 2012 at 3:41 pm

      This need to write is a common affliction among us writers. I agree, that when I am not writing for period of one week or longer I feel like a part of myself is missing. And since we're all happier when we ARE writing, might as well write on…
      Sophie Moss recently posted..Summer Solstice Selkie Spells

    6. Bullish
      June 20, 2012 at 11:07 pm

      A common affliction indeed!! Yeah, I think a week is my max too – much more then that and it's time to call the paddy wagon!!  

    7. June 22, 2012 at 12:28 pm

      You are sooo right! I wrote about 'Why I Write' back at the beginning of January…
      'Sometimes I wonder why I write…but the answer is easy; I write because I have to, if I didn't I'd be lost. As highly strung as I am if I didn't allow myself to escape in writing, I think I'd go quite mad!'
      I came up with a list of reasons to write (beyond the insanity of not writing)…escape, create (creating worlds, characters etc), fiction (the love of writing what my imagination makes up!), inspiration, manipulation (sometimes a character manipulates me…), discovery, consistency and finally…'I write because I am compelled to do so, it's in my soul, it's what I am, it's what I do, I write to be me.'

      • Jules
        Jules
        June 22, 2012 at 1:16 pm

        "I write to be me."

        Yes, oh yes! How lovely, simply put.  

    8. Arani
      July 14, 2012 at 11:52 am

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