machshefa: (tree pose)
[personal profile] machshefa
What follows is my attempt to make sense of some currently shapeless thoughts and feelings by thinking 'out loud', so to speak. Feel free to skip the navel gazing and wandering in circles and go right to the questions at the end. I'd LOVE to have lots and lots of discussion here if people are interested in the topic. Or, skip the whole thing and enjoy your evening. :)

So, I'm beginning to detect a pattern.

I finish a big story (this time, my SSHG Exchange Story), dip my toe back into reading other people's words, and, inevitably, begin to wonder about why I do this writing thing, anyway. I wonder what compels me to spend hours and hours each week struggling with images and voices and story, especially when there is no lack of absolutely brilliant stuff out there already (and being posted all the time). When I'm in the middle of a story, every spare block of time is mentally given over to writing. It's difficult for me to put it aside and do other things that need doing. When a story is finished, it feels odd to not have the story pulling at my attention and filling my schedule.

I never planned to write fiction. I've never taken a writing class or pursued creative writing in any structured fashion. In fact, I don't think I ever wrote a story until four years ago. I do remember having vague notions of one day writing SF/F when I was a kid. Not that I had a specific story to tell, mind you. I just remember that powerful desire to be able to DO what my favorite writers could do. (To transport, to emotionally move the reader in some important way, to transform. Oh, man. How egocentric is that? Argh.)

The desire faded in the face of my academic ambitions and clinical training and never really emerged again until I got poked to write a story instead of doing (mediocre) art (that was decidedly not going well) for an exchange.

So what's the issue? Well. Hmm. First is the 'why?'

I still don't really understand why I write, and am aggravated that there is still a very old voice that insists I am either BIG or SMALL and taunts me with my shortcomings as a writer. Of course, that voice also taunts me about all manner of shortcomings. It's not unique to writing. But writing is my hobby, not something I must do. Not like parenting or work or keeping my life and family basically on track.

Until I began to read in the Sherlock fandom, I had never, ever written a story that wasn't spurred by a prompt. Mostly I wrote for exchanges and fests, or at least began a story in response to some sort of structured request. I was relieved to be reading without also writing in my shiny new fandom. It was pure pleasure to read and not have any internal voice comparing my work to what I was enjoying from others.

Imagine my surprise when Sherlock's voice began whispering in my ear. Voice and a story (and a title) had never arrived in my head this way, basically fully formed. It was fascinating to me, and did make the experience of writing that series different. It felt less like trying to make the story happen and more like being a conduit to something outside of myself or, perhaps, deeper inside myself. I'm not sure.

So, then, I wonder whether my writing is more about self-expression or communication. I wonder how much audience matters. I consider what it would feel like if everything I wrote was seen only by me or perhaps by my closest writing friends.

As the 'why' sits and spins, I come to the 'how?' One of the most interesting parts of fandom for me has been observing the range of styles and approaches to storytelling. I've learned so much over the last few years and become very familiar with my own strengths and weaknesses.

I'm aware that learning to write and to tell a compelling story is developmental. Everybody learns and grows and hones their craft. I get this. I'm okay with this. I know that some writers I adore have been writing for decades. I know that many writers I adore have always considered themselves writers, always felt the urge and need to tell a story and to shape words into worlds and transport their readers there. I'm a baby (okay, maybe a preschooler) compared to those writers. :)

There are a number of writers in the Sherlock fandom and in HP whose stories I'll read and then think, "I'll never write again. Why bother?" It's not self-flagellation or a cry for reassurance. It's a measure of the way the story moves me, of the magic in the style, to the way those stories make me think or how they define the characters in ways that transform my understanding of the characters and myself.

There are stories and storytellers who cast such long shadows because of the power of their work that it feels self-indulgent to try to reach for those same heights. This makes me contemplate the way stories impact me (and others, I imagine). It makes me think about how transformative stories are and how much they change me and always have.

Words. Powerful things, words. I use them in my work. I hear them in all their cacophony and melody. In a clinical setting, I need to be able to join with people through their words (and other ways of showing me what is going on under the surface). I need to recognize the rhythms and, often, help people to change them. I can do this (well enough, usually) face to face with people. I hope I can sometimes do this in a story, but I don't think I do it consistently enough. Not powerfully enough. Just not enough.

I did warn you that this was a whole lot of navel gazing.

*rereads what I've written


It's all about identity for me.

Big surprise. It's always all about identity (for me). ;)

So. Why do you write?

How did you learn to write? What do you feel you're still learning to do?

How much is your identity wrapped up in your writing and storytelling?

How much does audience play into what you do and how you do it?

What makes certain stories shine (yours or others) in your eyes? What do you look for in a story? What draws you to read certain stories or certain writers?

Does anybody else get this crash after finishing a big or otherwise important (to you) story? Does anybody know why it happens? LOL

Does anybody else wonder why they do this and feel like they've just ripped off their skin and are waiting for the world's approval/approvation/rejection/indifference every time they post something?

Just wondering. ;)

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January 2012

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