Wednesday, August 29, 2012

writer me

I've been writing for a long time. I don't remember one specific moment where I was like "MOM I want to write a story," or "MOM someday I'm going to write a novel," or "MOM tell me how to write a poem."

It just kinda happened.

I think I was around six or seven years old when I started writing little stories (you know, the page-ong ones about Effie the ant and Polly the pony rider who found a baby in a ditch) and maybe around nine or ten when I started writing poetry.

It's been a long and sometimes painful journey, but writing is SO worth it. There's absolutely nothing like the feeling of finishing something - be it a poem or a novel, or some other kind of writing art. Just knowing that it's YOURS and you wrote it all the way through and didn't give up makes all of the blood, sweat, and tears well-worth it.
When I was eleven or twelve I was published for the first time in a magazine called Stone Soup, and that's what pushed me even farther into writing; I was hooked. Churning out short stories and poems, trying to figure out what was the difference between acceptance and a nice refusal thrilled me.
Then, when I was going into eighth grade, my wonderful mom purchased a high school writing curriculum called the One Year Adventure Novel course. (affectionately nicknamed OYAN by the students.)

This course took what I thought I knew about stories, characters, and plot - and turned it all upside down. My first book was born and edited that year, and by that time I was so into the whole "writing" thing that it never once occurred to me to stop with just one novella. I wanted more.
Last November, I took part in a writing program called NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month, the purpose of which is to write a 50,000 word novel during the month of November. (This would be my first novel, but my third book attempt.) And that's when things started to get really interesting.
See, during the months leading up to November I did a lot of prep, ie outlining my novel and thinking lots about my characters. That's easily my favourite part of writing - the characters. Before I wrote in November, I already had to know them. You can't write from someone's point of view unless you know them, and you can't know them until you've spent some time inside their skin, figuring out the way they view the world and how they interact with others. You create their backstory, work out WHY they do WHAT they do, stitch together childhood memories into a flawless tapestry that explains who they are.
And you can't experience all of that and come away unchanged.
That's really the point of this post - I've been head over heels in love with writing from a really young age, and it's changed the way I look at things. As Aubrey said when she guest-posted for me,
"...this is what it means to be a writer - to *feel* like I have never felt before. To experience more deeply, to sense things more keenly, to feel the wind on my face before an approaching storm and be able to put it into words, capture a little essence of the wind, put it to paper and let you share that electric thrill of the rumbling clouds."
The way I look at things is different, because I'm always trying to take everything in at once, taste it, smell it, hear it, see it, touch it, and then fit it all into pictures and words in my head JUST IN CASE one of my books has need of a situation just like this one.
The way I look at people is changed too, because I'm always wondering WHY. What caused this person to react this way? What moments in the past have changed the way they look at things? Is there someone or something that happened long ago that made them love/hate this experience so much? What stories do they have to tell; what makes them unique?
Writing is like a pair of glasses perched on my nose; it makes everything look different. Normal life becomes exciting and chock full of details that most people miss; vibrant colours and sounds and "how have I not seen this before?"
And I am in love with every minute of it.

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