Archives: Reccomendation

Why I Write

Why I Write

“When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself, ‘I am going to produce a work of art.’ I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing.” – George Orwell

Why I Write: If I answer truthfully, I don’t know why I write. Just as I don’t know why I breathe or water comes from the tap. City bred, it never occurred to me there were places water did not flow on demand. City bred libraries were scattered across neighborhoods. Words, ready for selection, were mere blocks away. A welcoming librarian smiled at the revolving stacks of books I placed before her. On rare occasions she might say, “Are you sure about that title? It might be a tad old for you.” I was never sure but I was always curious. The potential for escape lay between every binding.

Mr. Marks, my Sophomore English teacher, marked a spontaneous essay assignment with an A.  His comments written in red ink, first terrified then delighted me. He liked it. I was dumbfounded. That first positive comment regarding my writing niggled. No matter how many times my internal dialogue said, “maybe you can write,” my pragmatism retorted, “don’t be ridiculous”. Self-defeat reigned. 

Decades later a friend brought me Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. She said, “You need to read this.” She offered no explanation. It rested on my night stand for months. Picked up to slay insomnia, I read through the remaining night. It gave me the courage to say I want to write. I set the task of 300 words a day. I had no plot, no plan; my only tools were a keyboard and MSWord.  I was compelled to write to learn how my story turned out.  All the outside fears of what others would think fell away. THEY didn’t have to know and THEY didn’t have to like what I wrote.

I still want to write and I do. Doing it both tortures and fulfills me. Well beyond 300 words a day, a veteran of several NANOWRIMOs and engaged in all aspects of writing and reading I still don’t know why. Like breathing and water writing is a necessity.

George Orwell wrote the following https://orwell.ru/library/essays/wiw/english/e_wiw . It’s a lovely read.

Other writers I know have many reasons for why they continue. I will share their thoughts with future guest blogs. I’d love to hear what drives you.

Drafts, New Ideas, & Resistance

Drafts, New Ideas, & Resistance

Ideas can be new, a lusty temptation, a much-needed sledgehammer to break out of a plot corner, or a lethal form of resistance. Many are forgotten before pen, pencil, or paper scrap can be found.

Yikes, no pen, no paper.

Like you, I’m a writer. I’m in the middle of a draft. A challenging draft. It is especially tough because I’ve reached a plateau in my practice. I need to break through the current wall of resistance. I stepped away from the manuscript two weeks after a steady roll. Why? I had an idea. A good idea. A great idea (aren’t they all) for a new book. Writers have scads of ideas. They come over coffee, while driving, in the shower, or three a.m. Writers, hoarders of office supplies, are often without jotting basics when randomness hits.

New story ideas are exciting, like a second date, possibility without the tedium of attention or work. Sledgehammer ideas are gifts from the gods. They make the hero vulnerable, the villain likable, and the plot twists windy as a country road.

When’s the last time you dug under an idea to ask why this idea, now? If you are in the midst of a writing project, that you have committed to like marriage and a new idea pops up, resist the temptation. I know from sad experience. I must return to my current steady title . I must pocket my sexy new idea for another time, t and fulfill my commitment to write to finish.

Have you read Stephen Pressfield’s The War of Art? If no, read it. If you’re not writing, if you claim to be blocked, if you think you’re writing is crap, or you don’t have the right inspiration — stop talking or actually listening to your corseted internal editor. READ IT NOW.

I don’t get a cent or an atta girl for recommending this book. I recommend it because it calls you, me, and every other writer out on the elaborate, inane, and blockage generating lengths we will indulge to interrupt our writing and complete something, anything. Drafts are meant to be written not perfect.

© 2021 Lee Heffner – Author