Just for interest’s sake, it’s nice to know where someone is coming from when they say they are a writer. Do you have a degree in language arts? Teach English class? Write for a newspaper? Are you a closet poet silently pining for your muse? Do you write for a living? Do you live for writing? Have you taken courses, workshops, get-aways? Have you studied, practiced, honed, shared, wrote and rewrote? Do you just love words and know that the Great North American Novel lives within you, somewhere? Are you a 21st Century writer who blogs their way through cyberspace? Do you journal? Belong to a writer’s circle? Encourage other writers or just keep to yourself?
To many writers there may have been a turning point or a moment when you decided “writing is what I want to do.” Or, more likely, it is a condition that always existed and through experience and life it comes to fruition because it is what you are supposed to be doing. At that point, cultivating the craft becomes the technical part of creativity and passion is the directional driver. Ideas come alive and there is no end to your imagination.
There are things that make my writer’s life different from every other writer and, at the same time, there are many things that make it just the same as every other writer. Common to everyone who writes (or reads) is the love of words. This passion is part of us in a way that does not need to be explained to those of us who understand and harbor the same intense linguistic longings. The need to put pen to paper (or keystroke to page) is something that we do because we must. This intense feeling often formulates literary creations that we ask “where did that come from?” Explanation: it just happens. There are some writers who believe they are merely the vessel through which words are channeled – I am here to write and I do it. Other times, the creative process is more structured as we plot, plan and affix our thoughts to well woven tales. Measured and meticulous, they still produce offspring borne of our creative womb and they are a part of us, even when they are written down for all to read.
I remember writing stories when I was in junior high about pioneers and detectives and horses … things that inspired me at the time. I read every “Little House on the Prairie” book, I loved the show with Mike Conners as “Mannix” and horses, well, considering I was/am a city girl, they were (and are) my favorite thing on the whole earth. I would write imagined tales based on these experiences – as all writers do – I wrote about things I knew about. Writers also write what they imagine and deep inside, this is still what they know because it comes from within, it is a part of us.
I also learned by mimicking – the style of learning that allows us to study what others do, observe how they create – and if we can copy their way we can learn things about our own creativity. I still have a copy of a poetry book we put together in Grade 9 – on a two-page layout, we would include work by a published author. On the other side, we wrote our own version, either similar to or inspired by, the other. This is the same philosophy I follow for teaching beginner art lessons. We all should study how the masters create, we need to learn the rules and techniques, and then by applying them to our own work, we discover the artist (or writer) within.
So why am I different from any other writer? Finding one’s own voice as a writer is a very different process for each of us. My process involved a lot of years doing a lot of things that weren’t really what I wanted to be doing. It was like finding my passion along my life’s journey – it was always there and was always meant to be – it’s was just that the discovery took time. Once I decided that writing is what I really wanted to do, I cut out other activities and hobbies so I could focus my creativity. I took courses. I went to workshops. I learned and continue to learn. I joined a writer’s circle so I could share. I read constantly and write always. Everyday. Everything.
It’s like any passion – once it consumes you, it becomes your life. And in that way, I am the same as any other writer.