Tuesday, February 05, 2013

What I love about writing

I have been cleaning up my study as part of my commitment to writing (see Belated New Year's Resolution here).

I've always known that I am a hoarder of paper, but I never realised the extent of my paper hoarding until I spent nearly the entire weekend going through pile after toppling pile of old bills and early drafts of my Tafe assignments and novel works-in-progress.

After getting tough on myself, I now can see my L-shaped writing desk again; the four-shelf double door cupboard where I have stored my large collection of 'work' doors are now able to close and sit flush as they are meant to; and my poor outdoor area is playing temporary host to at least ten full garbage bags of waste (for when I have enough to order a skip bin) and a second pile of garbage bags containing stuff for me to take to the charity bin up at my local shops.

I gathered 34 - yes, 34! - notebooks filled with my story notes and ideas and have now grouped them to be stored in neat piles, one pile for each of the novel storylines I may not be working on but will never have the heart to abandon completely. You never know when I might want to resurrect any of those half-written story lines one day.

So, one cupboard and desk down, now for the six-storey drawers containing discarded first drafts, marked up revisions, completed course workbooks and whatever other paper-based nightmares I might chance upon.

All this clean up made me realise that I love writing way more than I ever gave myself credit for, and for a lot longer.

As a child, I used to frustrate my parents when they would find piles of self-made confetti that I had created because I possessed the strange addiction of acting like a human shredding machine for any slip of paper I no longer wished to keep.  Yep, I would make a mistake in my homework book, and rather than cross it out - like a sane person might - I would tear the page out and start rewriting it all over again and once copied to perfection, would then tear the page to tiny shreds.

I only 'worked out' that I liked writing about ten years ago, but the signs were there from my childhood that writing on paper was something I really enjoyed.  So what enjoyment do I get from writing?

Well, just holding a pen in my hand has helped me to quit smoking and to stop my chronic childhood fingernail biting.  But I love being caught up in what I am writing.

Once, my daughter came into the study (before it became a temporary storage area which caused me to have to find alternative places to sit down and write) while I was working on the idea for the novel I was writing. She came in saying, 'Mum' and, so that I wouldn't lose the brilliant idea and words while they were flowing, I held up one hand in a 'stop' signal while I scribbled and scribbled.  Once I had finally got the words out of my head and down on paper, I turned around to see what my daughter wanted. The trouble was, I thought it was about 2 to 3 minutes down the track - it turned out that it was actually over an hour later.  This incident has become a sort of amusing tale my children share with others.  Somewhere along the way they had worked out that when Mum is writing it is best not to interrupt her - else the monster side of Mum comes out.  But they worked out too, that I had indeed heard them, and they realised that I would not forget they were requesting my attention - even if they forgot what they were requesting my attention for!

I love writing, especially stories:  I live and breath the characters and scenes I am writing, which I can only hope means that my readers will live and breath the story when they read it. I love the physical sensation (and practicality) of holding a pen in my hand.  I can't draw even if my life depended on it - it's stick figures all the way for me, I'm the one to avoid having on your team in a game of Pictionary!

But although I sort of flunked at school - actually, I did much better than I gave myself credit for because if I compared my school marks with that of my year older sister I always came a very poor second but taking my sister out of the equation resulted, really, in my not getting bad marks at all - I managed to learn how to string sentences together.  Only at a middle of the class average level, but still, enough for me to pass tests.  How and when the writer in me developed I don't know: she could have been hidden there all along, or else she only came into existence while in my mid-thirties.

These days, now that I have a computer and am a capable touch typist (see, old dogs DO learn new tricks, and even undo a few bad habits that come from years of two-finger typing) my love of capturing the story and having words flow from my brain and out through my fingers and directly onto the keyboard actually results in my being more productive and can get more done (except when my fingernails are too long).

Are you a writer?  If so, what part of writing do you love most?  It is the words that come out, is it that you feel you are having your say? Like me, is it simply because having a pen in your hand or tapping away at the keyboard just feels 'right', or is yours a reason I haven't even considered?

Share your reasons in the comments below.  I would love to hear them!

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