I’ve been writing stories for as long as I can remember. In elementary school the tales caged in my pre-pubescent brain were set free in the form of stick figure artwork scribbled with a rainbow of Crayolas. In my first romance, mom and dad took center stage, holding each other’s stick figure hands in front of a stick figure house. I included my stick figure brother, sister and even our stick figure cat. The art work told the tale of a loving family and their happy home without actually using any words at all.
As a teen I replaced crayons with technology. In the 80’s we used chunky, green screened computers in high school. Their thick white wires snaked over the scuffed linoleum tiles like a nest of angry, albino vipers ready to trip up the nearest unsuspecting nerd. The computer’s gentle electronic hum lulled many a classmate to sleep. Their snores might have rattled against the keyboards, but I stayed awake. I’d bang out my assignment as quickly as possible, hoping to use the remainder of class to type out the stories in my head. My earliest novels were far from complex, the hero, my latest crush. His character and description changed with the frequency of the weather, not to mention my fickle taste. I of course held court as the heroine of these hormone driven romances. My kingdom was high school, my dutiful subjects, the popular clique. Through the magic of story telling I, Miss Unpopular 1989, became beloved.
College brought with it a dry spell. Scholarship swimming four hours a day along with required classes and never ending lectures stifled my muse. The romantic tales in my brain scrambled for purchase, trying their best to keep from slipping into the abyss of my overloaded grey matter. Over time, however, adulthood crept up on me. My life shifted in a new direction and after a productive four years I said a happy farewell to algebra, 5 a.m. practice and clubbing in skimpy outfits.
My muse had clawed her way out of the slush that had been my student brain and emerged victorious. Characters and dialogue flowed freely and the stories in my mind rejoiced as I finally coaxed them out of the darkness, knowing they would shine.
My point, after this long drawn out post is to remind us that we are born with the need to express ourselves. Our minds eye conjures images that in some of us cry out to be set free even from a very early age. Those images occasionally form chains and the chains, God willing, link together in linear order. Many of us stop there. We see the images, the full story in our head, but the desire or ability to transfer them to the page escapes us.
But for a lucky few, the delicate chain winds its way around our heart, hugging it in a warm embrace. The happiness, sadness, nostalgia, anger, desire, love that the chain is made up of merges with our cells, sinking deep within our DNA. The image chain has filled our soul, our very being with such overwhelming emotion that we feel compelled to share its wonder with others…and therein a story is born.
I am one of these lucky few.
Whether my story was told through the innocence of early youth, the immaturity of starry eyed adolescence, or flows from my 37 year old fingers, I have always known one thing, I must write. It is as much a part of me as my children are.
2009 is a new year, bringing with it new opportunities, new ideas and new goals.
My goal for this year is to learn from my past, look back on my five year old self telling that stick figure story, or fifteen year old Tamara, banging a romance out on a school computer. Back then rejection didn’t occur to me. I never worried if my genre was passé. I never stressed over voice. And I certainly didn’t care if I was following the “rules”. I just wrote.
Instead of allowing the ever changing market to depress me or enabling self doubt to cripple me as it often does, I’ve decided instead to repeat these two words, JUST WRITE.
Our characters must breathe. Their worlds must have substance. Their lives must have meaning.
These elements would remain locked in our subconscious if it weren’t for our ability to take a chain of images and feelings and transfer them to the page. In other words, JUST WRITE.
What if Shakespeare gave up because dialogue was too hard? What if Austen threw in the towel because characterization was too draining? What if Twain quit because world building was too time consuming?
Lucky for us, none of this happened. In fact, all of these authors had one definite thing in common, they just wrote.
And that is what we must do.
Hog tie, gag and lock self doubt in a closet, sit in the chair, place our fingers on the keys and…JUST WRITE!