by D.D. Line
Psst! Come closer. Closer! I have a confession. Two actually.
Sometimes I hear voices. Male, female, heavily accented tones from abroad, laconic Aussie timbres, booming shouts, and persistent whispers of those who have confessions of their own. The one thing they have in common – they want me to tell their story. And they want me to tell it now. Once I listen, and scribe their tale, those demanding voices fade.
Sooner or later though, another voice takes their place.
Sounds crazy, right? Something of great concern? Maybe. But when these voices share their stories with me and draw me into their world, something incredible happens. When I’m done, I want to share what I’ve learned about magical, mystical, faraway places, and timeless passions. I want to show readers the heroics, heartbreaks, or the redemption my characters, (those insistent voices) have earned.
The stories in my head are just the beginning. I have to write it in a way that makes sense yet evokes the same feeling in readers I had when those voices spoke to me. To capture the depth of emotion, to put the reader into the story, to show them what those voices were so desperate to convey. That also means I need to research some of the things they’re telling me to make sure I’m getting them right, because believe me, they tell me when I’m going wrong too.
Other times, my stories come from the world around me – a random smile, an enigmatic expression, an overheard conversation, (yes, I am covertly snooping) and through two of my favourite words – ‘What if…?’ Inspiration can be found anywhere at any time – (just like those voices.)
The other confession – writing is an emotional roller coaster. On the low days, when the muse, (or perhaps the voices) aren’t talking, it can be a challenge to find the right words to convey the story within. The story a reader experiences is but a fraction of the words the writer has coaxed, pleaded, begged, and bled into existence. And it breaks our hearts to delete words we know don’t fit in that story or don’t work at all, even when it’s for the best version we can create.
Committing to the writing life can be lonely. There are times when you have to say no to invitations because the story needs to be told. Sometimes writers need to be alone because we’ve received our first, our tenth, or our fiftieth rejection and we’re wondering what we’re doing wrong. Are we really writers? Are we deluding ourselves? But then we pick up our pens or put our fingers on the keyboard and write anyway because it’s a compulsion we can’t deny, control, or ignore.
On the high days, the words fall into place like the stars aligned, angels sang, and unicorns danced in the streets. We become lost in the worlds we create. Dinners get burned or missed altogether because we are so deeply into the writing zone time becomes irrelevant. We scribble away in our cars and don’t hear the final school bell, not even looking up as hordes of children thunder past, and then jump a foot in an air when our child slams the car door behind them and says, ‘I thought you were meeting me at the classroom today.’ Oops!
We venture outdoors or online to discover and chat with other writers who ‘get it’ when we say we just murdered someone. We haven’t really. We’ve just killed one of our darlings (characters) instead. (I didn’t say those voices are always nice.) We talk about our hopes and dreams to see our stories in print. We admire those amazing authors who’ve gone before us, who’ve had their own struggles to get their words on the page yet have the tenacity and the determination to see their dreams come true. And we want to be like them too. For those who belong to writing groups, we’re blessed when opportunities arise to speak to those who are successful, those who are generous with their time, their experiences, and their advice. We hope that someday we can give back the way they have, to share what we’ve learned, and to help those who need a little more encouragement on their low days.
So, crazy? Maybe. Compelled to write? Definitely. Would I still be writing stories if no one was reading them? A resounding yes. And if confession is good for the soul, I assure you, this aspiring writer’s spirit soars.
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