In April I wrote a post called Telling Stories that included background on my early dreams of being a writer and the opportunity this blog gave me to write non-fiction that has nothing to do with my work in academia. I told the story about writing my first short story, a complete rip-off of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow when I was 9 and how my father made it clear to me in high school years that I would never make any money as a writer.
What I left out what I got out of writing fiction. A few years after my foray into plagiarizing from Washington Irving, I had an ongoing story that I was working on in seventh grade and I remember a girl in grade 8 reading my daily installments of it while we were in Art class. She enjoyed it so much that she would pester me for the updates.
I loved the feeling of telling stories, and of having others interested in reading them. I also found writing to be a fabulous escape from the trials and tribulations that made up my adolescence and teenage years. As I stated in that earlier post, I thankfully had a teacher in my senior year of high school who told me that I should write. I’ve held on to that belief, sometimes a little too deeply inside of me, to the point that I have often failed to let it out.
I’ve spent much of the last 20 years writing academic work either as a student or educator. I’ve spent much of the last year writing for this site, which I really enjoy, but I’ve barely touched fiction writing.
Earlier this year I read Jennifer Weiner’s memoir, which inspired me to think about writing fiction again. I tweeted her to thank her for writing the book and was thrilled when she responded to me. After that I read Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, and the combination of these influences have served as an effective kick in the ass to get me back on the fiction wagon.
I work full time, write this site, have a family, and am dedicated to my morning workouts, but I have made the time (“making the time” instead of “finding the time” for the things that matter to you is key) to write almost every day for the past few weeks. As of this morning, I’ve written more than 10,000 words of a novel that’s been kicking around in my head for awhile. I’m writing as scenes come to me so it’s happening out of order and descriptions of people and places will desperately need to be fleshed out when I feel less like I need to get the basic ideas out before they vanish.
Will I ever get this novel published. I don’t know, and it really doesn’t matter at this point. It feels good. It reminds of the feeling I got when I wrote instead of paying attention in classes in middle school (yes, that would at least partly explain my grades). I imagine that typing away at it feels much the way it feels for a piano player to make music. There’s a sense of flow and intensity, but also serenity that comes with it.
I let out my bottled up physical energy when I run, but the mental release comes from writing. Everyone needs something that gives them that feeling in life. If you don’t have it right now, think about what it might have once been. And if you don’t think you’ve ever had such a thing, start searching. Find it and enjoy it.