A Writer’s Gotta Do What a Writer’s Gotta Do (2013-08-16 Daily)
Note: Amanda M. Thrasher of Progressive Rising Phoenix Press invited me to be a guest blogger today on her site http://www.amandamthrasher.com/blog/. The following is the content. Enjoy! Dave
A WRITER’S GOTTA DO WHAT A WRITER’S GOTTA DO
Once upon a time . . .
Every great story starts with some sort of “Once upon a time,” or “In the beginning,” or “It was a dark and stormy night.” Every “Once upon a time” swings wide the door of potential and ushers in either the satisfaction of expectations, the disappointment of a crappy plot, or what we all hope for when we crack open the cover of a brand-new book and lay our eyes on the first page: something astonishing, surprising, life-changing. You know what I’m talking about, why we writers plant our bottoms in the worn-out chair day-in and day-out: that one story, that one authentic suspension of belief, that one well-spun truth which grabs hold of your “ah ha,” spins you around, and sets you off down a new path with a firm pat on the butt and a whisper of support.
That’s why I write.
I remember my first time . . . it was 1979 or so, ninth grade English. Mrs. Doris Carr gave us an assignment to create an essay on a topic of our choice, as long as it fulfilled the requirements of proper essay format: introduction, at least three supporting paragraphs, and a conclusion tying a bow around the whole thing. At the time I was big-time into reading such deep, thought-provoking magazines like “Mad” and “Cracked,” and erudite books like Mad’s Don Martin Carries On! ordered from the school’s book sale program. My buddy, Steve Green, and I had put together a hand-made comic book about a super-hero airplane and its bumbling balloon-people crew. I read the Johnson Smith gag catalog on the toilet until my legs turned into two tingling stumps. I was a goofy teenager rolling around in the hayfields of my imagination. I loved it!
I took on that essay assignment with relish (and a bit of mustard and diced onions) and whipped out a story about the struggles and triumphs of a ninth-grader at Maine-Endwell Senior High School in the late 70’s. I turned it in, waited the requisite two or three days, and got back the paper with red ink splashed across the top. I can’t remember the grade, but to this day I still remember the actual comment Mrs. Carr wrote: “You are the Erma Bombeck of the adolescent generation.” I think she even drew a smiley face next to her comment. That was the defining moment, the pivot point, the impetus accelerating me to where I am today.
I love doing this stuff–I used to feel guilty about having so much fun at “work,” but I’ve thrown off those old shackles and am enjoying dancing cheek-to-cheek with metaphors, imagery, and fleets of fancy; I look forward to getting up in the morning to do my quiet time, then write. In fact, I’ve awakened from a dead sleep at three in the morning, grabbed my notebook, and sat on the tub step for an hour writing down the wild story idea or inspiring truth God plopped into my head. The urge to write is stronger than the desire to remain curled up in my nice snuggly warm bed drooling on my pillow, especially when God says “Fetch!” And fetch I do. The breakfast of creativity at single-digit AM is satiating.
Writers gotta do what they gotta do. Like Border Collies gotta herd, and armadillos gotta get run over crossing the freeway, writers gotta turn their experiences and imagination into stories, lessons, literature (or at the very least, blog posts). Writers have to take what the world dishes out, chew on it mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, and spit it out on paper or the computer screen for all the world to see. We can’t hold it in and we can’t hold it back–like going through labor: this stuff will eventually come out when it’s due, ready or not. Oh, it may be ugly, it may stink, it may not make any sense, but every so often what comes out is beautiful, funny, rich, touching. And if our labor of love results in one changed life, one “ah ha,” one redirection, one decision to make the world better in some small way, we’ve done our job. Just one more smiley face on the cover sheet of life.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to reign in some unruly adverbs stampeding all over the page. A writer’s gotta do what a writer’s gotta do. Hope I drew a smiley face on your day.
Copyright 2013 (c) David C. Hughes