Alexander Film Works

Why I Write

In Think About It on October 16, 2012 at 5:24 pm

A periodic reassessment of the reasoning behind my habits of self-torture

The glib answer to the titular question is as follows:  “I don’t know how not to write.”

If I dig a little deeper – and I usually don’t try to – I say that I feel I have something to say.

I don’t think I’m consciously trying to impress anybody, and I certainly don’t expect to become rich and famous from it.  (That would be a bonus, however…)

Basically, I try to tell stories.  The medium by which I do this can vary from just words, to words and pictures (in a comic strip/graphic novel format), to motion pictures.  I try to get these stories told.

But “self-torture”?  Is that my view of the entire process?

At times, yes… You see, anything committed to paper (or phosphors on screen, or magnetic bits on a computer drive) is rarely, if ever, my very first draft.  It may be my first written draft, but it’s been recirculated countless times in my brain before that, and each written draft will undergo many stages of revision before its final form emerges.

A standing joke in my house is “Stop me before I revise again!”

Does all this revision and rewriting make my work better?  I can truly say “sometimes”… Sometimes a revision cycle pares a sentence, a paragraph, a chapter down to its irreducible minimum, letting the central thought shine like an expertly faceted gemstone… and at other times, revision squeezes all the juice, all the life, out of a passage.

It’s a hard determination sometimes.

If you are as afflicted with this malady as I am, the best thing you can have is someone who will read your work and give you an honest opinion, rather than the one that salves your ego.

You then have at least one person who will tell you when your figurative britches are around your ankles.

This is a valuable asset.

What else you need is the discipline, the will, or the gumption to stay with it and keep writing.  The general consensus of many professional writers I know, your first million words (or so) are crap, and you progress faster once you get this apprenticeship process out of the way.

So, aspiring writers, cheer up!  It could be worse…

  1. It is so true that you need an honest opinion to crit your work. It is difficult to find. People tend to want to be too kind, and don’t want to tell you what they really think, or be constructive. Nice post.

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