Day 304 – The chase of the writer

Day three hundred four of my 365 Day Writing Project.

The art of writing is a wily beast. Inasmuch as it can be simple, it can be extraordinarily difficult. The art of writing is always a step ahead of the writer. You see, writers are chasers. We chase our imaginations, we chase words to bring color to our stories, and we chase the notion that we can artfully depict our stories to share a little piece of our minds, to leave something behind of ourselves that will prove that we existed once. That we were something special because we had something to say worth reading. But no matter how much we chase, we never reach the level we hold as our standard in our minds.

Wily, elusive, seductively ambivalent. The art of writing is all of these things, which is why writers are chasers. We may eventually capture our imaginations and generate the story we wish to tell, but for a time we hold it sheltered deep within ourselves like hyper-protective, helicopter parents. During that time we live with it pinging around the corners of our minds in sheer madness until we are ready to put it down on paper. As we write we try to blossom the story into what we envisioned, and we hope what is left on the page truly reflects what we enjoyed (lived) in our minds. We do all of this knowing full well that it will always fall short. Always.

I love the way Khaled Hosseini (The Kite Runner and And the Mountains Echoed) describes it in an interview with Joe Fassler:

You write because you have an idea in your mind that feels so genuine, so important, so true. And yet, by the time this idea passes through the different filters of your mind, and into your hand, and onto the page or computer screen—it becomes distorted, and it’s been diminished. The writing you end up with is an approximation, if you’re lucky, of whatever it was you really wanted to say.

Writers experience this every day, in every piece of writing, and sometimes even in every sentence we write. Madness? Maybe. Art? Definitely.

So, we chase. It’s what we do.

Day 294 – At least I’ll always have my imagination

Day two hundred ninety-four of my 365 Day Writing Project.

I waited all day. I waited over fourteen hours, actually. For over fourteen hours, off and on, I thought about writing. Distracted, busy, obligated to fulfill a long list of responsibilities, I had to wait. I was eager to sit down and write today, which is pretty much the norm for me. But it was another Monday I had to go to work when all I wanted to do was stay home and write.

Hour after hour, I couldn’t take my mind away. When I could – when I wasn’t absorbed in one of my legal matters or taking care of my kids or doing yard work with my husband – or maybe even when I was doing those things, I was thinking about writing. Earlier today I described it on Twitter like this:

If I can’t be writing, at least I can allow my mind to tumble freely through the halls of the story.
And that is what it feels like. It’s like my mind is tumbling around ideas, words, story line and characters, with no particular sense factored in. That’s my imagination, like a load of dirty laundry in a front-loading machine; it’s a busy mess in there. So, then what? What does one do with all of those active thoughts about a story? One writes.
I wrote down some of my tumbling thoughts tonight before they vanished. Now, they reside in my outline. Boom.