Saturday, March 31, 2007

A writer is what I am

Do you ever get hit with those big moments when you know, you just know that what you want is going to happen? In those moments, something inside gets tight and butterflies flutter in anticipation – even if that thing is down the road, site unseen as of yet.

I had one of those days today. I think it goes along with what Alyson said about the excavation of a story. I’ve really been digging up the good stuff.

However, I think I’ve been on a journey of excavating myself, as well. It’s a journey that clearly started in November 2005 at a work related conference when I penned page after page of ideas for a story rather than taking notes on whatever boring topic was being discussed. I came home that day and started looking for writing classes. That story is now shelved, unfinished, along with a slew of children’s fiction that I attempted years ago.

I’d been rolling around the idea of being a writer for a long time, playing with it, trying it on for size like a child trying on the pretty prom dresses from her older cousin’s closet. It doesn’t quite fit at that point. You don’t fill it out in all the right places, but you can see that you might…maybe…someday.

I’m filling it out better now. It’s no longer too long. The straps stay on my shoulders. I have a little something to fill out the bust. When I model it now, it’s a better fit.

When I think of stories now, I think in terms of goals and conflict and motivation. What would a person in that situation want? How would he come to be in such dire straights? Why would she need this or that? What would make her desperate to have it? What gets in his way? What would a nemesis do to prevent the hero from getting what he wants?

I used to see glimpses of a scene or character in my head, and think, “Wow, I’ll turn that into a story.” Now when I see those characters or scenes, I think, “How did he get there? How badly does he want to get out of it? What would he do in this circumstance?”

I guess the difference is that I used to approach it like a kid with a plastic shovel in the back yard. I’d just dig and see if bones turned up. Now, I dig like a trained archeologist. I have better tools. I know where the bones are more likely to be found. I know a phalange doesn’t tell me everything. I have to find the skull and the vertebrae to give it form.

So back to the moment thing….

I realized today that I’ve collected many of the tools I need to excavate my stories. I recognize situations in which I might need a new tool and have the knowledge to find out what will work.

I know where to look. And I know I’ll find it – maybe not with this story, but the next one or the one after that perhaps. I know I’m a writer. I’m not just pretending to try it out any more. I look at the world through writer eyes, storing up experiences upon which I can draw.

It hit me today that I will be published. I will see my books on shelves at bookstores and in women’s beach totes and next to their coffee cups. I know it like I know the sun will rise in the east and set in the west. I feel the anticipation like a child knowing Santa will put just the right toy under the tree. Like waiting through the night for the sunrise and like watching the days slowly being marked off the December calendar, I know I have to wait a bit longer. But the butterflies are telling me to wrap my arms around it and embrace it and write like the wind. And they’re telling me to call myself a writer because it’s what I am, not what I will be.



Alyson Love said...

And this may be one of my favorite posts of yours! Good analogy-- and yep, a write IS what you are.

Alyson Love said...

Oops-- a WRITER is what you are. Ha!