With Christmas and New Year’s on the way we start to think of New Year’s resolutions. More often than not these are taking the next step in a number of things from exercise to careers and education. For me, writing has been a recurring one. So perhaps now more than ever, with the latest draft of my current manuscript nearing completion, I start to think more of why I write and continue to write.
Thinking of the future often brings up memories of the past. At times I have had trouble answering how I came to be a writer. It started as a hobby, much like play-acting and even drawing. In all these as a child I relished the opportunity to enter make-believe, to imagine myself as someone else in another world. Sometimes I imagined friends and others joining me in my fantasies. Some even thought I might have as easily become an artist as a writer.
So why didn’t I? Looking back, the answer seems to be I didn’t have persistence or confidence. While I enjoyed drawing, I never pushed myself into getting better. Acting was for fun too, which I pursued most especially in high school. With writing, and my first attempt at writing a novel at age 13, I poured my heart and soul into it and getting better. I persisted, and pushed myself for the first time. There I found my artistic expression, with words instead of pictures.
I have enjoyed the challenge of weaving words together. It has given me a sense of purpose outside of work. I write because I alone drive myself to reach greater heights. But I am not alone. Were I alone, I might have crumbled. Sharing my experiences with family, friends, and fellow writers every time brings out my confidence, my belief that I can do this. And I admit, there have been times where I am consumed with doubt that I will ever be any good.
In my yearbooks from middle school onward, even before I took writing seriously, many peers and teachers encouraged me to keep writing. One even said I might be the next J.K. Rowling. Even today people speculate on how if my work appears in print they can say they know the writer. While such talk makes me smile, I have to remind myself that fame and fortune are not the motives of a true writer.
I must bear in mind my father’s advice to me: tell a good story and tell it well. Without that main focus, I don’t think it is possible to be a good writer. I must continue challenging myself to tell a good story that I wish to share with others in the hope they will love it and remember it. To that end, I dream of venturing into multiple genres and even forms of writing in order that I may always travel into uncharted territory.
Not doing so would lead to what I call the Misery Complex (in reference to the Stephen King novel), where the author’s wants conflict with those of his or her audience. From the start I have never wanted to be confined to one or two genres, and I intend not to. Nor will I write anything of a serial nature without a set ending in mind, or a set number of books. Ultimately what I write will be what I want to write, otherwise my heart will not be in it. Without heart, without experimentation, trial, and error I feel I can never grow as a writer.
So what are my New Year’s Writing Resolutions this year? Not merely to keep writing and finish this book and search for a publisher, but to write more, and try new things. And this time I need to be serious about it, like I was when I began writing my first draft of a novel. There will be errors no doubt, but I must remember those are learning experiences too.
Many thanks to all those who have been there for me and are here for me now. Happy Holidays!