Wednesday, November 2, 2011
An Insecure Writer
This post is my first entry for Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group.
Question: Why am I an insecure as a writer?
Answer: Why shouldn't I be?
After all, I'm a chemist. I've never written a book or short story before (except a one page story about a silly rabbit back in fifth grade). I didn't grow up wanting to be a writer. I've never taken a single course on writing and I've only recently learned that the term "fiction novel" is redundant. Up until a few years ago, I thought the ability to string together enough words to create a story was reserved only for certain god-like beings granted "THE GIFT".
Oh, and one other thing. I've always hated writing.
With the fire of a thousand suns kind of hate.
It's not as though I've had no experience with writing. I've written technical reports at work and submitted a few papers to scientific journals, but only when my boss or advisor made me do it. My big problem is that translating my thoughts into words on a sheet of paper (or computer screen) ranks as one of the most difficult things I can ever imagine doing. It's like swimming in molasses. It's like climbing a mountain while wearing lead weights. It's like passing a kidney stone.
I'm just guessing on the last one, but it sounds about right.
Writing just doesn't come naturally to me. I've often likened my writing process to that of trying to sculpt a statue from a metal block by repeatedly pounding it with a hammer. Eventually it kind of resembles what's in my head, but that's about it. And my revision process consists of repeating the process over and over again with successively smaller hammers. I don't create sentences -- I beat them into submission. My manuscripts resemble battlefields, not something anyone would want to read. Slow and painful.
And yet, two years ago, I decided to become a fiction writer.
This paradigm shift had nothing to do with any surgical procedures or dalliances with drugs. It occurred two and a half years ago when I began contemplating how a certain well-known author (hint: see blog title) might go about beginning another storyline, and I discovered just how much fun it was to create fiction. Developing new worlds and unusual characters and intricate plots is simply a hell of a lot of fun. I'm hooked. Forever. I think about my story every free moment. How should I introduce such and such a character? What is their motivation? What's the most horrible thing I can do to them and still keep readers interested?
So no matter how painful the process of getting all those thoughts down onto paper can be, I just can't stop.
So why am I insecure about writing?
Because no matter how great my plots might be or how well I've crafted my characters, I don't know if I will ever be able to conquer my seeming inability to convert thoughts into words -- at least well enough to be published.