My life is still moving at breakneck pace, but today I stole a few moments to do some writing and blogging. I realised that I haven’t posted anything about writing for a while. Let’s fix that.
I don’t think I’ve mentioned this yet (oh me, so cheeky) but I’ve been working on plotting two novels. I’ve already started writing one, albeit for a class. I’ve been encountering fears about pacing, characterization and just how the hell to end the story, which I’ve come to understand are pretty normal fears for a first time novelist. I think that, if you don’t have these fears, you either are some kind of super writer and we need to break down your genome and create an army of super writers to change literature forever, or you’re in denial. I’ve been told Egypt is lovely this time of year.
This undercurrent of existential fear has given me pause, but at the same time has forced me to think deeply about what it means to be a writer. I thought that, since I haven’t been posting about writing lately, I’d share some of my thoughts with you.
I’ve been thinking a lot about some of the misconceptions about writing. One of the biggest ones that I’ve noticed is that writing is presumed to be a solitary activity, wherein the only conversation is between characters on paper. I’ve come to realise that this could not be more false. Writing is a constant conversation.
Conversation, defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is an informal talk involving two people or a small group of people: the act of talking in an informal way. Other definitions include the stipulation that the exchange is oral, but I feel that those definitions are outdated in the advent of instant messaging and email. By that definition, writing is a conversation. It can be as formal or as informal as the author chooses it to be (and before y’all get uppity about the informal part of the definition, remember that some conversations can be formal despite the informal medium). Conventional writing wisdom says that writing is a conversation between a writer and their reader. It is the way the reader reads between your lines, interprets your allusions and metaphors, and, of course, what they feel as they read.
I’ve come to realise that this isn’t the only conversation going on. Even if your work is never published, and the only people who read it are your pets, you’re having a conversation. Who with, you may ask, because Mr. Fluffums and Mrs. Snickerdoodle won’t tell me if they think the third act drags?
You’re having a conversation with everything you’ve read up to this point. Everything you’ve read, even if you don’t realise it, has influenced you. Everything you’ve read has taught you something about writing, whether great examples of craft or flaming examples of how not to end a novel. And when you write, you’re having a conversation with everyone who will write afterwards. In this conversation, you will teach them something
This is the ultimate conversation. This is a conversation that will continue when we are unable to speak. It transcends space and time.
And I think that’s one of the most beautiful things in the world, and it’s why I keep writing. I want to be part of that conversation.