The Why Of It
As I forge ahead with my next writing project, I often question why I do it. Why do I feel compelled to write out my stories and try and create something out of nothing? I am an ordinary lunchpail-to-work guy for what pays the bills and keeps the creditors at bay. What moves me to write? What motivates me and how did it ever start?
Those are tough questions for any writer I suppose. I suspect a few do it out of a desire for some (seemingly unattainable) level of fame. Others may do it out of boredom or maybe even obligation. So where do I fall on that spectrum?
All I can say is it is and always has been part of me. It is almost genetic that way. I've enjoyed it ever since I was a kid. Unfortunately there were a lot of lost years where the only way it manifested itself was in letters to my brother in New York, my friend Pat in Tulsa, and eventually to this girl, Donna, who I would eventually marry after a long courtship via letters back and fourth between WI and NY.
It's these years between college and say 10 years ago that I wish I could do over from a writing standpoint. I really just started about 10 years ago, so lots of lost time.
I've been following Bill Kenower's blog for quite some time. He is a writer who writes self-help books for other writers. I love his insights. Often times his columns allude to your own personal voice and your own personal stories. You might be writing on a subject that hundreds of others have written on, so what makes it different? The answer is your voice. Your style is unlike anyone else's. This is a revelation that I keep need to reminding myself about.
Cretin Boy, as a book about an all male, Catholic, military academy, is a fairly unique topic - not many people had that kind of experience. Voice in this case is still important, but hopefully what makes it stand out is the unique subject matter. Accompany it with my voice and it should stand on its own as a book unlike many others.
My manuscript in progress is about various cabin experiences I've had over the years. This probably has a much broader appeal, but also has probably had a lot more written like it. Again the unique spin I will bring to the work is my unique voice. That voice has taken 48 years to develop and 10 to refine.
In many ways, my developing voice IS my work in progress. And I can't imagine not working on it.