A woman on a creative writing e-group I belonged to once said that for her writing is like mowing the lawn – she hates the process, but loves the results. Me – I love the process. I love picturing the scenes in my stories and figuring out the best way to describe them. Good writing, as I read somewhere once, good writing is making people see familiar things in a new way, and making them see new things in a way that makes them seem familiar. I love that process, that ‘conversation’ with my characters, those visits through the ‘universe’ I’ve created. Finishing - the ‘result’ - for me is almost a letdown because then the conversation is over. The visit is over. The relationship is over. The door closes, the people (characters) are gone and I have to start over with somebody new.
Writing itself is therapy and relaxation, hobby and obsession for me. Writing is watching. Writing is listening. Writing is stillness and manic activity. Writing is feeling a tension inside of me, part of me that wants to grab onto, hold, embrace, become some bit of something that I can’t shake out of my psyche - a character, an action, an angst, dialogue. I want to take that bit of whatever and own it, work it like red hot iron in a blacksmith’s forge, I want to become it and I want it to become me. I want to be, see, hear, smell, taste, touch, experience what I’m writing about. Most of all, I want to feel it, I want to feel the character, their lives, needs, emotions, I want them to become so real to me I don’t write the story as much as I simply write it down.
In an interview I saw recently, the actor Graham Beckel, in describing acting, said ‘you can play at the character, you can play the character, or you can be the character.’ Writing is the same way. You can write about the story, you can write the story, or you can tell the story. Readers can read about the story, they can read the story, or they can live the story. When you tell the story, the reader forgets that they’re reading a story, they forget that they’re reading anything at all. Good writing puts the reader right into the middle of the story and makes them live it.