And sometimes blood, of course. But the thing that runs through our veins, the thing that keeps us alive on the inside is the same thing we put to paper: ink. Oftentimes I’ve wondered what it is about writers that makes them so exemplary. It can’t just be the time and energy. Anyone can put time and energy into a whole range of activities. But for the writer I feel there is something different. For one thing, you have to live in your story in order to make it. You have to buy a house in some old Victorian settlement, a room in a castle, a space station in some far off, dystopian future, or the smelly old apartment of a twenty-something hopeless romantic.
Either way, these people and situations cannot just be streams of consciousness: they have to be other forms in and of themselves.The question is: what makes the writer so inclined to this: to want to create this otherworldly person or otherworldly place? As a young writer I can’t pretend to have all the answers. What I do know from personal experience is that the mind doesn’t really choose to write: it has to. Imagine shaking a coke bottle up until the pressure becomes so great that, when you open it, the cap comes flying off. That, I feel, is basically what the writer’s mind looks like. You’ve got something that’s rattling around inside you that desperately needs to come out, but it needs more than spoken words. It needs rhythm, range and texture. It needs careful articulation.
For some reason you can’t tell yourself no when faced with the challenge. At least if you’re a good writer. Otherwise you could go talking into a corner. But you want to see your words, not hear them. You want other people to see them, even if you’re shy about your writing. The difference then between a good writer and a bad writer is that a bad writer will shelve it away, once they notice all the blemishes that come with an unpolished first draft. The good writer will try to elevate it. They will elevate it because, in spite of flaws, the idea still has to present itself somehow. It just HAS to. Otherwise it goes bottled up back in the can.
It’s like a self-counseling session. The computer screen is your doctor, asking you to tell it everything. It will, for the sake of the session, ask you to modify or regulate certain statements. This is the point where the bad writer or bad patient leaves. The puzzle’s too big to sort out. But the good writer stays behind because the thought of an idea lost is far more terrifying than the thought of it modified or reanalyzed.
I admit that the idea of criticism terrifies me sometimes. But what scares me even more than if people see my writing and don’t like it is if they never see it at all. I have tried to write stories and pieces ever since I was about four years old and this blog is my first endeavor on a social media platform. But I realize that if I don’t take the risk then the writing remains bottled up. The answer to my question of why writers are so inclined to write is that things will not rest silent inside us. They refuse to. They’re like a restless child in a small crib running around to escape. There comes a point where the child gets too old and persistent to lay still, eyes shut, in a state of slumber.
So you’ve got to take the bars down.