the year that was 2009, part 1 ~ reflections on writing

I woke up this morning thinking about what a phenomenal year 2009 was for me. It was full of ups and downs, but interestingly enough, it was the downs that fueled the ups. 

The most significant thing that happened to me is that one year ago I discovered something about myself that I never expected.

I LOVE to write. Absolutely love it. Well, at least the stuff that pours into my head at 2:00am when I can’t sleep.

If you’re wondering how I could get this far in life without knowing this about myself, join the club. I’ve written plenty of stuff over the years as part of the various jobs I’ve held. But it was always what I needed to write for someone else. Technical guides, sales brochures, reports, business proposals and letters…it was always for some other purpose than my own.

And I didn’t really enjoy it. I’d struggle to make the material as professional-sounding as possible, but when something was completed all I felt was relief that the ordeal was over.

Writing fiction is different, because I’m doing it for myself. I can let the story and characters take me wherever they go and the only thing I have to worry about is typing as fast as I can and finding the time to do so. And usually the time I find is in the middle of the night. So much for sleeping.

When I close my laptop at the end of a session, the satisfaction and wonder that I feel astonishes me. Enmeshed in the warm glow of creation, I’ll crawl into bed to grab a few treasured hours of sleep before work, still wrapped up in the emotions of the characters that play out their lives in my head.

The next day when I review and edit, I frequently feel a sense of amazement that I wrote this, that these words on the screen came from me. Don’t get me wrong. I know my writing skill is not all that great, that it’s immature and in great need of further development. But occasionally I’ll look at a phrase or a scene and think, ‘Wow. That’s really good. I can’t believe I did that.’

And that’s what keeps me going. The hope that I can feel more of those moments, and that my readers will feel them as well.

Because my biggest fear in this whole new world of writing is not that I won’t get published, or that people won’t like my work.

My biggest fear is that I as a writer I won’t do justice to the characters that give me their stories. That if I fail, I’m failing them. That their trust in me is misplaced, that they chose the wrong vessel through which to tell the tales of their lives.

I just don’t want to let them down.

So I’m studying, practicing, reading, attending workshops – everything I can do to make me a better writer. I owe it to the characters in my stories because they helped me discover this precious gift of creativity that has given me a new lease on life.