Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Writing

As a child, I used to tell the other kids stories just for fun. I spent hours every day in my head while playing outside or with my nose in a book or my eyes glued to the t.v.



In 1994, I opened up a notebook to jot down some words that were floating around my brain. They rhymed and fell into a poem I named "The Game." I closed the book and ignored it until words started invading my brain again.


In 1996, I had a teacher who noted my scribblings and gave me free access to the class computer to write out an entire book. I loved it. The book was horrible, of course (I was only 16), but as much as I hated the driving words in my brain and dismissed the thought of ever actually publishing anything (after all, it was common knowledge that writing was worthless -- a hobby, not a "real job"), the actual act of putting words onto the page was intoxicating.

This tendency was encouraged by many of my teachers, from that history teacher to my English teacher, my theatre teacher, and even my Biology and Botany teacher. Even then, when I had to go to the library and sift through aromatic tomes rather than ordered lines of text on a screen, I loved to research for my writing. A poor student in standard classroom work (due to boredom, not comprehension), if given alternative assignments, I thrived and went above and beyond.

I filled notebook after notebook, and it was years before I renounced the pen(cil) in favor of the keyboard, but hand cramps were a large factor in that decision. There is something missing from a computer that the scrawled fonts and sketch-strewn pages of a composition book can give you -- emotion flows into the pen visually. 

My editor-aplha-reader commented, "Your drafts are so crazy clean, you freak," which got me to thinking about the writing process. For me, I'd say that I spend quite a bit of the day with my muse buzzing around my brain, whispering not-so-sweet nothings that I feel an almost obsessive compulsive need to document, but how much of that is actually spent writing?


Courtesy hisks on stockxchng
Well, for one, that depends on my knowledge of the subject matter. Assuming that I know the location well enough, the local culture, the language, idiosyncrasies, professional terminology and procedure... I can shoot out 500-1200 words an hour. I can put out 5,000+ words in a day (my personal best appears to have been 8,671).

I get caught up in the details a lot, though. I'd say that writing my current project is about 3-4 hours of writing content and 4-5 hours of research -- largely because I'm writing about places I've never been. But sometimes I'll end up spending an hour reading up on something that I only need one sentence worth's of information for. Why? I'm weird, that's why.

I was the same way when I wrote fanfic. I think that is what I have to largely thank for getting to the place I am as a writer now. I started out immature, messy, never letting anything be seen until my beta (a nice Australian lady who had me spelling colour her way while she tried to deal with my atrocious American spelling) had cleaned it. Alternately, I also offered my own services as a beta reader. I only offered to authors who had some serious talent, and it tended to be a huge commitment but an invaluable experience.

I've written over 60 short stories, ranging from a little over five hundred to over eighty-three-thousand words. I'd tried and scrapped multiple books before I came across the one that clicked. I'm sad that the book I spent 13 years writing is probably total trash, but if I'm honest, I'll admit that it's more than likely.

Writers are always asked for advice on writing, so there's a ton of varied, awesome and conflicting advice out there. But one thing all writers can agree on:

Just write.