On Writing: Finding the Words

I always thought I would be an author. I loved reading, and I had an affinity for words. I would spend days perfecting a six line poem, finding the perfect word to say what I meant, finding the perfect layout so the visual aspect of the poem adding to the meaning. I also wrote short allegories (that masqueraded as children’s stories). But what I really wanted to do was to write a novel. So I quit my job, stocked up on paper on pens (this was pre-PC), and sat down to write the story of a love that transcended time and physical boundaries, told with sensitivity and great wisdom. To my dismay, I discovered I had an appalling writing style, little wisdom, and absolutely no talent.

Back then I thought that to be a writer, one let the words flow from mind to pen to paper, like a medium transmitting messages from the spirit world. (Puts a whole new meaning on the word medium used as a vehicle for ideas!) But few words came to me. And the ones that did come, conveyed little of the story I wanted to tell.

And then one day no words came. Gone out of my head. Kaput. I lived with that sadness until many years later when I decided that, talent or no talent, I would write. So I did. I put one word on the page and then another. To my surprise, I finished the novel, but it is so terrible that I do not include it when I count the number of books I have written. (It’s a novelized version of my life, written more as therapy than literature, with a single benefit — I no longer have any desire to put myself in any of my books.)

After that, I started to read books about writing, which depressed the heck out of me because I couldn’t understand half of what they said. Rising conflict? Show don’t tell? Beats? The information gradually seeped into my subconscious, and so I learned.

After starting my fifth novel (or sixth if one counts that first autobiographical one) I discovered the internet and so wasted my words on commenting and blogging and emails, which is why I declared October as MyNoWriMo (My Novel Writing Month.) Unlike NaNoWriMo in November, MyNoWriMo does not require me to write 50,000 words in the month. The words do not flow out of me; I have to pull them out one by one. What I do expect from MyNoWriMo is to get back into the habit of writing, to find again the joy in building a story word by word.

And it’s working. Last night, for the first time in months, I felt that excitement of being in the story. I only wrote about 500 words (typical for me) but they are good words. I can hardly wait for tonight!

5 Responses to “On Writing: Finding the Words”

  1. K.S. Clay Says:

    I’m so happy for you. There’s something about that feeling when you’re deep into a story that you can’t really get from anything else. And don’t worry about it being “only” five hundred words. Those are five hundred words you didn’t have before and if they are good words than all the better.

  2. Bertram Says:

    Thanks, K.S. I appreciate the encouragement.

  3. Suzanne Francis Says:

    Does this mean we will see fewer blog postings? I’ll miss them, but I am glad you are writing again. 🙂

  4. Bertram Says:

    Fewer blog postings? Absolutely not! Blogging is my other love.

  5. ~Sia~ Says:

    Writing is an ever learning process, Pat. In the beginning, it is depressing as you research and apply what you learn about writing. I thought, omg, I’ll never learn all this and apply it effortlessly, and I’ll never learn all the terminology. But, a funny thing happened to me along the way. I did begin to use what I learned in the novels I’ve written. At first, it was stilted, but somewhere the knowledge I took in ‘clicked’ and while I won’t say it’s effortless, it’s not a hard as it once was. Kinda like when I learned Spanish. I thought the same, and then there came a time when I didn’t have to think about it anymore, it speaking and comprehension just clicked…

    The joy of writing returned…

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