As some of you may have noticed, I’ve been absent from my blog for quite some time again lately. This is not actually for lack of trying. Pages of illegible scribbles in my notebook, numerous one-paragraph-long Word documents, and emails to myself (because sometimes inspiration strikes me at the day job, and a “remember this idea” email is the best I can do at the time), will all prove otherwise. But not one thought materialized into what I would call a publishable blog. This happens to me a lot. It’s my thinkin’ ’bout stuff phase. But I know if I don’t write something, I’ll just sit and think myself to death. So I bring you…
Random Thoughts About Writing
1. Technical writing is not the same as writing writing.
To translate my thought for those lucky enough not to be living in my brain: Technical writing is not the same as creative writing.
Some of you may know that I’m a technical writer as a day gig. On a good day, I really like it. On a so-so day, I tolerate it. On a bad day, well…On the chance that someone from the place that puts food on my table is reading this, I’ll refrain from writing how I feel on the bad days. This, by the way, is not how tech writing is different from creative writing. I have good, mediocre, and bad days with that too. In fact, I’ve most likely had worse days with creative writing than I have tech writing. After all, I haven’t been collapsed on the floor sobbing about how badly I suck and how no one in their right mind should ever read or publish my atrocious work at the office yet.
One of the biggest differences between creative writing and technical writing (besides the obvious ones, of course), is how foreign technical writing still feels to me sometimes. While I’ve picked it up quickly—as it turns out, every time I’ve written “Proven ability to adapt to new editorial styles quickly and efficiently” on a cover letter, I wasn’t just talking myself up—it sometimes feels like I’m playing in a world I don’t fully grasp. The best way I can think of to describe it is buying a shirt that says “yacht club” from the $5 rack at Wal-Mart. I can look the part. I can play the part. And I’m very good at my job. But some part of me will always know that I’m a great big poser where technical writing is concerned. It just isn’t my world.
2. Am I too rebellious to be a successful writer?
Some of you may be looking at that thought and asking yourself, “WTF?” But stick with me.
I’ve always loved reading. I read all the time. I think back to high school when, yes, I read all the time—just not necessarily what was assigned. It’s not that there was anything wrong with the literature I was assigned. It’s that it was assigned in the first place. I was told to do it, and so I did it grudgingly at best. At worst, I refused with the panache that only a poor, put-upon teen can muster.
Now I’m a grown-up and so I follow the rules because I’ve worked too hard and have too much to lose not to, but in a lot of ways, I’m still like that teenager I once was. Tell me not to do something; you best believe that’s all I’m going to want to do. Order me to do that very same thing; it’s the last thing I’m going to want to do. (Just so you know, asking nicely goes a long way with me.)
I, like most struggling writers (and what I mean by “struggling” here is that we still need day jobs and probably will for a very long time), dream of the day when my job is simply to write. But what happens if and when that day comes? What happens when I’m given a deadline to write precisely the stuff I like to write, and told to just do it? Will I still love writing as much as I claim to? Will I wake up in the morning excited for my day, or will I come to hate it simply because it’s what I’ve been told to do?
For the record, I’m pretty certain I’d still love it in spite of my rebellious nature, but since this thought kept me awake one night, it was worth addressing.
3. What in the hell kind of god am I?
“Whoa! WTF did she just write?” But again, stick with me. I’m not a weirdo. Well, actually, I am. I’m just not that brand of weirdo. And truly, this thought isn’t even all that original.
Writers create worlds and they create the inhabitants of those worlds. So as far as Word files and stacks of paper are concerned, writers are gods. That’s all I’m saying. And, like I said, it’s not even an original comparison. So, moving on…
What in the hell kind of god am I? It’s actually a conscious decision that must be made. If a piece is to be character driven (as the best pieces are), that means giving the characters free will. Okay, got that. So what if one of my favorites, my chosen (okay, maybe I am having a little too much fun with this metaphor) does something stupid that could get them killed? Do I let them die, or do I step in and throw them a bone? And what made that character my favorite to begin with? Was that character the most godly (the one most like me)? And what about the characters I had no problem offing? Am I a vengeful god? Did they have it coming? Did I create them solely for the purpose of being offensive enough to kill? And if so, what does that say about me?
And what about those characters I’ve abandoned altogether? I have tons of work that just wasn’t working so it’s been put aside. Do my characters lament being abandoned by their god when I’m not working?
Like I said, I’m not that kind of weirdo. I am aware that my characters live only in my mind and on paper, and so I would have to write characters lamenting for them to do so. But it’s a fun little brain teaser for the next time you’re lying awake thinking about a writing project. There are endless questions that can be considered along this line of thought. So I invite you to examine them for yourself, unless, of course, you actually want to get some sleep.
So that’s what’s been going on in my head lately. Aren’t you glad I didn’t try to make any one of these topics its own blog?