"You can approach the act of writing with nervousness, excitement, hopefulness, or even despair- the sense that you can never completely put on the page what is in your mind and heart. You can come to the act with your fists clenched and your eyes narrowed, ready to kick ass and take down names. You can come to it because you want a girl to marry you or because you want to change to the world. Come to it in any way but lightly. Let me say it again: you must not come lightly to the blank page."
in his book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.
I came to writing not knowing I could write. I came to writing to answer a question within me that didn't seem to have any other expression or way to be heard. I came to writing because I couldn't think what else to do with the burn inside, the thunder in my head or the silence that was strangling my life. I guess I came to be seen. But I also came to see.
I came to writing unplanned, unprepared and unknowing. I threw my soul on the page and I let the words take root before my eyes. I let wild things grow in sentences and edited the jungle later. I let the first draft be just that, a first draft. The blank pages reflecting turmoil and joy and tragedy, all the colours and gray scale of life. I just wrote.
Now that I have a healthy appreciation for the art... I have not changed my approach one bit. I don't think it is the only way to come to writing, or even the best way to come to writing. It is rather like the joy my baby derives from a bowl of spaghetti. And really, what is pasta if you cannot mash it through your hair and spread it around the table? And oh so much the better if the deliciousness creeps up the walls around and splatters on the floor below. That's me and writing. It ain't pretty, but I enjoy squeezing the pasta between my fingers. I like mashing words through my hair and so much the better if they end up spread from my office desk to the back of the house.
But I will say this- although I roll in the pleasure of the whole writing process, I am humbled that I get to add my words to this world...even in small ways. And I hope I never take that for granted.
What about you? How do you come to the act of writing? What works for you?