(Title is a Frank Turner lyric. Of course. I actually wrote an alternative version of this post that is, like, Frank Turner themed. You can find it here.)
Okay, two things need to be said before I start this Teens Can Write Too! blog chain post. Firstly, John Hansen was kind enough to swap days with me because he and I were both on Twitter when he was writing his post (a day early for his time zone) and I was realising I should have written mine already (a day late for mine). I should have been yesterday. I apologise for the confusion. Secondly, I am aware that I haven’t commented on a single TCWT post apart from Charley’s at the very beginning of the month, and that was just a coincidence. I’ll get to those as soon as I have finished writing this, okay? Don’t panic. I will read them.
The topic for May is Why do you write? Bet you’re seeing where that title fits in now.
Many people ask me, “Why do you do that?” when they see me in the library trying to hit a certain wordcount target – usually several thousands above the NaNoWriMo target, because I’m a ridiculous overachiever. They ask me “Why do you get up early and write? Why do you spend so much time reading up on boring bits of law and politics as research? Why do you edit? Why, in short, do you like doing this?”
And I don’t have an answer for them. Well, that’s not quite true. More correctly, I have an answer, but it would take too long to explain it. So here are my reasons:
I write because I like writing. Because writing is a chance to create something that I know I can improve and refine until my vision is clear. I’ve always struggled with drawing, although I’ve begun to improve in the last few months, and I don’t yet know that many steps for ballet so choreography is somewhat limited and it’s hard to get a point across. Writing, on the other hand, is something I know I can do and something that can show my vision to other people.
Writing is a chance to change my mind. You know when you make a decision, and a few months later you wish you’d taken the option? Through writing I explore those parallel worlds, the things I never did. My characters aren’t me, and their options may not be exactly the same, but they frequently take the equivalent of the other option and I’m able to live it through them.
When I write I can live a thousand lives without leaving my own. I’m paraphrasing something Maggie Stiefvater’s character Nuala in Ballad said, actually, though she was talking about directing movies. Through writing I can feel the emotions and make the decisions and savour the triumphs of a life I’ll never live for myself. A long time ago I wanted to become a champion Irish dancer – that was what I wanted. I didn’t want to do it in a tacky dress and wig, I wanted to do it as myself. And so I wrote first Legacy and then, closer to my heart and feelings, Memory. (Both of them are bad. Both of them are available to read as an early draft on Protagonize. I do not recommend it.)
Writing allows me to take out my anger without hurting any one. Some kid set off the fire alarm, got my whole year thrown out because they thought it was us, and I was very angry. And my friends will attest to the fact that I’m quite a violent person (for someone of my size, I’ve been told I punch remarkably hard). But the revenge I settled for was to write into a book a character of his description and with a similar name and then kill them off. Horribly painfully, probably slowly. That’s enough to make me feel better. When a friend read one of my fresh drafts she asked me if I’d had an argument with one of our mutual friends. I had, and I asked her how she knew. “Because the character you’ve always said looked like him got tortured way more in this draft than the previous one.” It was true. I wrote that scene when I was really mad at him. I enjoyed it a lot.
Through writing I can explain things I can’t explain out loud. I’ve been known to write letters to my parents when there was something I needed to tell them that I felt I couldn’t say out loud. I think I’ve done it four times now – the first three were dance related, and were generally my trying to persuade them to let me do Irish dance / ballet / more classes in a logical manner, since when speaking I tend to get emotional; the fourth was about a situation I’d lied about and was feeling guilty about having lied about and wanted my mum’s advice. However, I’ve also used writing fiction as a way to do this. There’s a scene in Watching where she finds out that her grandad is dead. And it doesn’t really fit and it seems a bit random but no one, not one person, who read that draft commented on it. Because I wrote most of Watching in the two weeks following my grandad’s death and I needed that to be there. It was, I guess, my tribute. (It’s still there, though I’ve since modified it to seem less out of place.)
Writing is a discipline that doesn’t feel like a chore. I like playing music, but ‘practice’ is boring. With writing, I know that at this age a lot of what I’m doing is ‘practice’ for when I’ve lived longer and have more depth to my writing. I’m honing my skills for when I have the emotions to match them. But it doesn’t feel like that, perhaps because I know that publishing and professional writing doesn’t depend on age. I don’t know. It just feels like it’s got a purpose in a way that few other things do.
And that’s why I write. There are so many other reasons, but I won’t go into them now, because, hey, we’re busy teens and don’t have time to read all that.
Thanks again to John for allowing me to escape the shame of missing my day completely :)
How about following the rest of the blog chain instead?
May 5–http://towerofplot.blogspot.com–The Leaning Tower of Plot
May 6–http://correctingpenswelcome.wordpress.com–Comfy Sweaters, Writing and Fish
May 7–http://cassidymarierizzo.wordpress.com–Cassidy Marie Rizzo
May 8–http://insideliamsbrain.wordpress.com–This Page Intentionally Left Blank
May 9–http://weirdalocity.wordpress.com–You Didn’t Really Need To Know This…
May 11–http://thewordasylum.wordpress.com–The Word Asylum
May 12–http://lilyjenness.blogspot.com–Lily’s Notes In The Margins
May 13–http://laughablog.wordpress.com–The Zebra Clan
May 14–http://planetaryelastic.blogspot.com–Tangential Bemusings
May 15–http://realityisimaginary.blogspot.com–Reality Is Imaginary
May 16–http://otherrandomthings.wordpress.com–Dragons, Unicorns And Other Random Things
May 17–http://lonelyrecluse.wordpress.com–The Lonely Recluse
May 18–http://incessantdroningofaboredwriter.wordpress.com–The Incessant Droning Of A Bored Writer
May 19–http://miriamjoywrites.wordpress.com–A Farewell To Sanity
May 20–http://allegradavis.wordpress.com–All I Need Is A Keyboard
May 21–http://teenscanwritetoo.wordpress.com–Teens Can Write Too! (We will be announcing the topic for next month’s chain)
PS – Did you know that you can ‘like’ me on Facebook?