This entry is in response to Chuck Wendig’s flash not-fiction challenge. Because my brain did not want to novel today.
Well, right now I’m writing this to avoid typing up what I wrote this week, because I’m pretty sure I don’t know how to fix it yet. I could be wrong about that; if I actually sat down and started the gears might start to turn and things might start to move in my brain: woo-hoo, genius at work! Or not, and it would be all hacking at bedrock with a fork. Which is what this week has been, writing-wise. This week was, in fact, a week where I might be within my rights to ask the Universe why the hell I do this. And so.
Okay, so here’s a story: I had a year–1995-1996 or so, the year between graduating college and getting into and starting grad school–that, for a very long time, I mentally dismissed as a year I didn’t write. I finished one story, and it was really bad. Then somewhere in around 2005, same thing, except I didn’t have the bad finished story. Both of those years have things in common: depression, anxiety, jobs I wasn’t happy in, the feeling that my life had gone off in a direction I Did Not Want and I couldn’t figure out how to get it back; setbacks and scariness and all around dark periods.
2006/2007 also included my pregnancy, during which I actually considered just … not being a writer anymore. Because in my pregnancy-hormone-addled brain, that made perfect sense. But those Lost Years (if you will) always came to an end, and I’d write again. But hold on, that’s not the point …
So you have a baby, and you go back to work, and one day you look around and think that maybe you should seriously clean your office, right? Because there are a lot of old lesson plans and story drafts and just a lot of paper piling up, and you’d like to not lose your now-toddling child under the inevitable avalanche. Maybe you should buy a filing cabinet like an actual, paper-hoarding adult.
Of course, that means you actually have to file things.
I remember sitting in the middle of my office floor, child entertained by his grandmother and great-grandmother in the living room, and in my lap, my hands, scattered around me on the floor were things that, if my grasp of my own history was correct, shouldn’t have existed: a long, long re-telling of Cinderella from 1995; an attempt to re-write a story I’d done as a freshman in college, dated 2005. About 80 pages of a young adult novel, three first drafts of some inter-related short stories, another 20-30 pages of a fantasy novel, some poetry–all of it from those years when I honestly thought I hadn’t been writing. None of it was finished, mind you, but all of it was written. By me.
So I think the reason I write is because, apparently, I’m not particularly good at not writing.
As for, like, philosophical reasons–I used to write because I wanted to be a voice of a generation, or because Art, or to make people’s lives better, or to prove myself to people …
I can pinpoint the moment when I started writing with one ear toward what someone else thought I (actually our entire workshop) should write. This mostly came out in huge amounts of defensiveness–I was writing X, but it was literary X! I would change the face of X genre forever!
I can also pinpoint the moment when I decided to just fuck off and write the things that were fun.  (Fun that tries to kill me, occasionally, but fun.) The fun things make my brain feel good. The fun things have worlds I like to spend time in. The fun things tend to involve my thinking, I wonder if I could pull that off? and then, you know, seeing if I can. And the fun things have been, for the most part, better-written.
I knew something was up when Jason told me how much he liked this new, weird turn I’d taken. I really knew I was onto something when the husband started asking me if he could read my drafts.  And while I’m not wildly successful, I started selling things when I started writing the fun stuff.
So I think, then, that I write what I write because I like it, and it’s fun. And, really, if I’m going to do it anyway–since apparently I can’t not–and if I can’t control the vagaries of publishing, I may as well entertain myself.
1 [back]Fast-forward to 2007, when the flip side of that happened and I thought that three months into parenting was the perfect time to start a novel.
2 [back]Yeah, they said they were going to help me sort papers. Right.
3 [back]The concept of which I still really think is cool, might I just say.
4 [back]This is why I started dating whatever I wrote in my notebooks, and why I track word counts mark the days that I write in a calendar–because I need to remember that I am, actually, writing, and writing consistently.
5 [back]I’ve mentioned my college-era pretension before, yes?
6 [back]I have lost a lot of writing time over the years to a variety of things; trying to simultaneously write what I wanted to while making it “respectable” was exhausting, as was the defensiveness, and I really wish I could get that time back.
7 [back]See footnote 1, interestingly.
8 [back]Until then he was very, “It’s good, but it’s not my thing.”
9 [back]Yet, says the Scott-voice
10 [back]I also realize that there’s a certain irony in the people around me really liking my work, and that telling me something, once I decided not to write based on what people might like.
11 [back]Even the angst. I revel in the angst. And also the parts where the story tries to kill me. Like this week! Goddammit.
12 [back]And Jason and Scott.