Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I don't think it's a well-kept secret that I am a naturally anxious person. I worry--about nearly everything--and get nervous easily. It's not really anything I understood about myself until I was 14 or 15 and in therapy, that yes, what I thought was shyness and a general disdain for other people was actually anxiety.

I can't ever remember being anxious about writing something down. Which is quite funny because I've read quotes in the past of people who say things like," writing is audacious". It's a little bit egotistical (totally true). It's "brave" (I think of that as one of those general artsy-fartsy terms). I think writing is egotistical ( I mean, seriously, who do you think is going to read your shit? And who's going to care about it?) and I personally believe that the pen can be mightier than the sword and expressing yourself in any clear, sharp way that may make people squirm can be considered "audacious." But I've never feared a blinking cursor.

I started writing outside of school when I was 9. That I remember very clearly because my best friend was a good storywriter in school and I wanted to do everything that she did. Plus, I'd always been told that my little one-paragraph descriptions of whatever were good and I was a voracious reader, so why not?

I rewrote Interview with the Vampire (with girls in the lead, obviously). After I read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, I tried my hand at something far too similar to that. That only lasted a few pages, then I tried writing my Civil War epic (I think I'd just read Gone With the Wind), which had great chapter titles, but no actual chapters that lasted more than a single, wide-ruled page.

Then came Titanic, this juggernaut of a movie, with attractive leads and an epic love story and tragedy. I hated the ending, so I rewrote it. Then I tried to write a short story sequel. Then I wrote a "mutli-generations" later version of Titanic--Rose's great-grandkids or something. I did manage to write a 5-page short story about a steerage family on the Titanic. My first actual completed work, lol!

Then came a WWII story--I'd just seen Saving Private Ryan--then another Depression era-through the war story of an Irish immigrant family living in Kentucky. That ended up being about 50 pages and remains the only piece of fiction that I have ever allowed my parents to read. The only thing of note there was that the characters had twisted Queens-Jewish grammar though they lived in Kentucky. Yeah.

There was Lucky, which came out of a Britney Spears song and The Outsiders. It was about a town run by gangs and this girl who witnessed one of her brothers kill the other one and then ran off, only to become the most famous rising actress in Hollywood within a few years. I never finished it. It's 54 pages long and I still have it on a thumb drive, but I can't end it for some reason.

I've had a lot of page-long beginnings and germs of ideas.

Then there are the fanfics. Orlando Bloom fanfics *winces* and one Pirates of the Caribbean and one of Lord of the Rings one, which I still add to from time to time. Those things were endless. Epilogues on top of epilogues. But that was my first tentative step into writing for other people--used to email those off to friends, much as this blog does. Those things might add up to 2 million words on their own.

College stuff--nothing significant, really. Well, there was the Ongoing Saga, but it's best not to mention that, considering how bloody autobiographical that one was.

And now.

I started this off thinking of anxiety because a friend, who hasn't written in a while, wants to start up again and doesn't know how. She has an idea and characters, but she keeps mentioning how she's nervous about it and I was trying to remember if I'd ever been nervous about probing myself for amusement or ideas. Maybe for workshop, but not on my own. Granted, I couldn't stop writing even if I tried and even if I never get published, I will always write. So I have trouble figuring how people drop things like writing or whatever their pursuits are anyway--I forget that sometimes things are hobbies for people, though writing is so ingrained in my own life that it's fucking compulsive.

I've gotten past the writing-as-therapy deal, I think, and have begun to actually craft it and more importantly, finally understood how to shape it. And maybe that's why, when I used to keep a journal in my teens, I was more nervous about writing that than about any piece of poetry or fiction. I didn't want to face my own emotions or my flaws. I didn't want to be faced by my perceived failures.

But if you go around worrying about failing all the time, even as the cursor blinks, then you're not getting anything done. And the beauty (and yes, frustration) of writing is that it can be anything you want it to be.

So get crackin', buddy. I expect an outline by the end of January. ;)

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