Essays

Writing Is Not Child’s Play

Everyone’s experience as a writer is unique. To some people, writing may seem like an overcrowded intersection. They may start off with a messy jumble of ideas, in which case they may have to fill the role of traffic cop in order to assemble them into an organized sort of traffic flow. For me, however, writing is more like a game of connect the dots, in which one draws a line between a series of small black circles, which are all numbered, and attempts to arrange them in chronological order, ultimately forming an intricate image out of each small part.

Sometimes my voyage into the depths of a story begins in the living room with my family. However, when paying attention to the television begins to break me out of my reverie or my four year old sister begins to vie for my attention, I migrate into my bedroom and take care to shut the door. Sometimes I lock the door as well, though this depends largely upon the nature of what I’m writing and how persistent my sister has determined to be in her pursuit to steal my attention away from whatever it is I am writing at the time and relocate it onto herself.

This retreat into my room requires that I ignore the various articles of clutter encompassing my room. In all honesty, I have no issues doing this. While my room may look like a minefield to an outsider, it will always remain a sanctuary to me.

I then sink down onto my bed, place two to three pillows behind my back for support, and sit with my legs stretched out across the bed. At some point I cover up, most frequently with my preferred green polyester blanket, in which I just so happened to have wrapped myself currently, since I have been known to complain of frigid temperatures, even when it is 80 degrees outside.

When I write, I have found that I usually start with one vague idea, to which I then attempt to connect other relating ideas. In order to do this, after obtaining this vague idea, I must accumulate others. In fact, I actively seek them out. Sometimes this process occurs rapidly and sometimes more slowly.

Nevertheless, I hoard these ideas until my brain is bursting with activity. Next, I eagerly open up Microsoft word, with the same enthusiasm and anticipation of a cat hurdling up to the kitchen table and stealing its owner’s tuna while the owner’s back is turned. At this point, I sit down to write with so many ideas surging through my brain that each finger tap to the keyboard sounds frantic. When my brain is hard at work, each key stroke seems to boom with intensity.

Then when I get further into my creative process, I lose that previous sense of brashness and the speed at which I type begins to lull. My key strokes grow quieter, almost hesitant. As I pause, lost in contemplation, I begin to tap one or two keys in an erratic rhythm. Sometimes, if I press a key too forcefully, a stray letter appears on my computer screen, as if entering a battle field, only to be deleted in a swift countermeasure led by a click from General Backspace.

The letter then dies an instant death, a careless casualty. It’s almost like a humble sacrifice to the muse that inspires my writing, a lone letter that it can gobble up, like a snack offered up in thanks for deigning to keep me company. This habit began after I had a conversation with a friend who admitted to doing as much when lost in thought, and somehow I wound up adopting his ritual as my own.  Now this procedure has become a required prerequisite, so that I can escape the reflection stage of my writing process and cross back over to the part that involves actual writing.

Eventually, over the course of a few hours or a seemingly infinite string of days, I feel satisfied with the bones of what I have written, and I begin to tweak it in various ways. This is an addicting process, one I begin to labor and obsess over. I read and reread entire chunks of text sometimes thirty times or more, and sometimes inspiration strikes again, so I will add even more detail to the piece. When I revisit the content I have created, sometimes weeks or months later, I still find it hard to be content with the edits I have made, though I do manage to be proud of what I’ve written and feel a sense of accomplishment over finally bringing my writing process to a close.

Though writing is like a game of connect the dots, and like the aforementioned game involves basic reasoning and skills of logic, it is not child’s play. It is an intensive process, at the end of which one will hopefully have their piece polished up like a shiny gemstone. However, one must keep in mind that gemstone did not just magically appear in the author’s hand. Rather, this author had work for it by digging through a dark and colossal tunnel until this singular gemstone was discovered.

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