By Robert Donaldson
The first question that comes to mind when someone decides they want to be a writer is: Why Write? That cynical, skeptical part of you might then ask: Do you really think you have something important to say? If your answer is a resounding “Yes!” then you’ve got what it takes to become a writer.
Many people think that they can get by in life on the things they say. I say people get by better in life on what they write. There are those who think they have the “gift of gab,” and can impress others by jabbering on and on endlessly, often saying nothing of substance but merely blowing hot air. I’d much rather read an interesting article or short story than listen to someone go on and on about their job or their lame brained business ideas or some other such useless gibberish.
I, like many other committer writers, write because I must. Otherwise, I become restless, uncertain and at a loss for what to do with myself. I become grumpy, impatient and generally difficult to live with. There is something deep inside me that says, “You must write, and you must write something every day.”
Like most writers, I keep a journal in which I write random thoughts and ideas for stories or articles. I’ve been keeping a journal in one form or another for most of my life. Even as a kid in fifth grade, I would write poetry – more for myself than for anybody else – in a notebook.
You see, my mind is always working, always thinking about something or other. Those thoughts always seek release and relief. Writing offers both. I’m happiest when I working on a writing project or outlining an article or story. I have little trouble getting started writing. Words just seem to come freely once I sit down to write. Unlikely as it might seem, I don’t have a problem with writers block. Perhaps it’s because I have been honing my craft for well over fifty years. I only started to publicly refer to myself as a writer when I was in my mid-twenties and my life was quite troubled by people in general and I needed a way to express and to vent my frustrations.
Over the years, I have written several hundred articles and short stories for online magazines, better known as ezines. I have also written four or five “trunk novels.” Trunk novels are those novels that get started and have many rewrites but somehow just don’t quite work so they end up stashed away in a drawer somewhere or on the hard drive of my computer. I’d say that fully half of the hundreds of thousands or pages I’ve written have either been thrown away, stored somewhere or languish in limbo.
I say this to say that the writing life is one filled with ideas that come and develop in fits and starts, some of which are stillborn even before they got off the ground. We writers often do this. A story idea that sounded was brilliant yesterday, just doesn’t look very appealing today. This is the writer’s life.
Writing is a craft – something that grows as you grow. Some of the stories that I wrote forty years ago are embarrassing to me today. I’ve produced the bland, the jejune, the mediocre, all of which were a part of my growth and development as a writer. I have no regrets. Every lame story that I wrote was something I could build upon later, something that helped me hone my skills. Every plot that somehow meandered off into nothing helped me to learn to focus and think. Even my past frustrations and painful experiences have helped me to grow as a writer.
The writing life is not an easy one. Neither is it very rewarding, financially, but I wouldn’t trade it for any other life. That’s because, you see, I write because I must. To follow any other path would be contrary to who I am and what I stand for. I write because I can’t not write.
Link to my website: Donaldson-Media