On Writing

It’s so funny, maybe not funny ha-ha, but I barely wrote a single word of fiction for 8 years and then one day last week it’s like I flipped a switch and now it’s all coming back to me, how much I love writing fiction and how exciting the whole process is. It’s all consuming and overwhelming, trying to figure out exactly how to translate into words the snippets that are playing in my head. The story has exploded into something much bigger than I originally thought was there, and I am honestly having such an amazing time working through it. I’m so happy, even though sometimes it is so frustrating to sit down at my computer with a cup of tea and know there is so much I want to say but can’t get the words right. So I dug out a book I’d bought in high school, back when I was writing a short story a week and battling bouts of insomnia with scribbling away in notebooks, “Beginnings, Middles & Ends” by Nancy Kress (I also found a faded post-it stuck inside the cover with the number of a high school boyfriend, what up!).  Yes, I’m the dweeb who bought books on writing fiction. It’s actually a really helpful resource, and totally gets at what I’ve been feeling. Kress writes, “[t]here’s always a gap between the story as you imagined it –compelling, insightful, rich with subtle nuance– and what actually ends up in the manuscript […] because stories must be written, and read, one word at a time, with information accumulating in the reader’s mind to create the full picture. This slow, linear accretion of impressions can’t ever quite equal that perfect flash of inspiration in which all the parts of the story –action, meaning, nuances, insights, all of it– burst into the brain all at once. Words, unlike movies, are not a multi-sensory event.” When it’s explained that way, it assuages my terror of not being able to do the story justice. It will get there, the trick is not to be discouraged. I have 6 whole pages (totally out of chronological order); at this rate I’ll be done next year, and that’s okay.

I was talking to Aidan, my best friend since 6th grade, the other night at the Florence and the Machine concert and when I told her I was writing a book she said, “I’m so happy! I always knew you’d be a writer.” Which is funny considering when we met, our life aspirations including dressing up like the Spice Girls, ahem. With the exception of 3 creative writing courses I took in college, and this blog (which I don’t consider the same thing), I’ve taken about an 8 year break from writing. It feels so, so good to be back.

13 thoughts on “On Writing

  1. That’s so great that you’ve got back into it, your writing is brilliant. When you book launch, can we all come?! Honestly that’s so cool Erin, I’m glad you’ve found your ‘thing’ (again).

    I also found a faded post-it stuck inside the cover with the number of a high school boyfriend, what up! – Brilliant!

    Soz been away a bit this week, busy doing coursework so blogging’s gone a bit awry xx

  2. You know I’m thrilled for you, so what I’ll say is that this is profoundly familiar for me to read…minus the post-it (Seeing as the boyfriend I dated through most of high school is gay. But we thought he was so sensitive!). Books on fiction and memoir writing line my shelves, and I’m learning to trust the process, as well as my long break in the process. I’m learning, also to know that blogging *is* part of the creative process for me, even if it’s not exactly what I end up writing one day. One day. A few years ago, I was taking a look at a friend’s newly redone kitchen and she was describing that feeling when the backsplash tile perfectly aligned with the countertops, and I thought, “Yeah, I get that feeling with a perfectly constructed sentence.”

    And I still have sentences running through my head, waiting for their story.

    I think you’re insanely talented dear. Keep it up, and savor the journey.

  3. Oh this is amazing – good for you!! I’m always so in awe of you writers, as I have a hard enough time stringing together a few sentences for the blog each day – ha!

  4. Hi Erin-
    Good for you! That is so exciting! Writing is one of my favorite creative outlets, but I envy that you can write fiction. I’m not so good at it. It’s so great to get back to something you’re passionate about. I just might dust off my tutu! (kidding of course!) xo Teri

  5. May it not be the stalker boyfriend’s phone number! But, that’s a story better left for another time.
    Just keep writing! Keep imaging, dreaming. Remember the magic of meeting an author….even if you were too young to remember getting the Wizard of Oz book signed. And, some day you will be that memory for another hungry reader!

  6. First, you could never be a dweeb. And, second, especially not for buying books on how to write fiction. (I’ve got a few.) They definitely help as your quote so aptly illustrates.
    I love what you wrote in your comment to me about pursuing your dreams, “It’s surprisingly simple, you just move from inaction to action.” So true, so true. I’m weirdly fascinated by what holds people in that in-between space. What’s the story in their head that holds them there.
    Anyway, I digress. So happy you’re moving forward, and are in the “action” space. Go, Erin! I can already think of a few very qualified people who should read your first draft. ;)
    PS~Have you ever read Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg or Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott? (Filed under: Unsolicited Recommendations. ;)

  7. Yay! and hooray! for comebacks! :D
    At this rate, you’ll be published before you know it.

    “Yes, I’m the dweeb who bought books on writing fiction.”
    Well, I’m the dweeb who buys books on happiness, how to enhance my creativity, use my time more efficiently, etc., etc.
    We can be dweebs together!

    I just, this moment, had a glimpse into the future and you’re going to be a successful writer; Annie and Sam will have a thriving interior design businesses; Tina and Theresa will inspire and facilitate creative collaborations and Lauren’s photography will be highly sought after.

    Oh, and me? I’ll be one lucky childrenswear designer with a plethora of amazing talent to call upon should I ever need it! ;D

  8. Hooray for you! My writing is temporarily down at the moment. Oh well, new job, new town – I’m only human. :) If you wanna talk writing (or anything else!) sometime I’d love to do so. mia_femton@hotmail.com
    Someone recommended me this book on writing on twitter. I haven’t bought it yet.
    Also, Stephen King has written one that comes highly recommended by a lot of writing friends. I’m definatley gonna buy that one..

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