a lot of times I think about the good old days when I used to write science fiction for an hour or so every day. I really got into it – in fact it was something that really helped to define who I was as a person. I wrote hundreds and hundreds of pages, and I liked my stories a lot; I especially liked my two main characters with whom I related quite a bit. This makes sense, of course, considering I created them and brought them through a lot of different adventures.
looking back on my stories, however, is something else entirely – the reason for this is that they weren’t very good at all. Most of my heydey of writing took place in high school before I’d really developed as an adult and as a writer. My main character, who was often referred to as a hit man, never killed anybody in his life – in grade 9 when I named him I didn’t know what a ‘hit man’ was, just that it sounded cool. A lot of the scenes are somewhat cheesy and I wasn’t very good at writing male/female interaction. I think I did some pretty cool world building, creating an entire series of galaxies in which my characters interacted, but as a whole I realize my writing was pretty bad.
which makes me realize what really mattered about my writing was not the quality of it, nor was it its saleability, but simply that I really enjoyed what I was doing and that it was a large part of my growing into an adult. A lot of the interactions that I wrote between characters mimicked things that were happening to me as a teenager. The way my characters handled honor and value were the sorts of ways I wanted to do the same when I became a grown-up. In general the books were a sort of extension of myself.
the part about this that is sad, of course, is that at some point during college I pretty much lost this part of myself and never really got it back. A big chunk of the reason for this was that I started trying to write for others rather than for myself; to sell books rather than to explore problems and situations in my life; to come up with something unique and exciting rather than to write about what I felt like writing about that day. As a result, my life feels somewhat less whole than it did before, and though I do write when I can it is no longer such a pivotal aspect of my life.
hopefully now that I have realized this important distinction I can start writing for myself. If other people want to read what I write then that is great; if it simply helps me through the day or flags a hidden aspect of my psyche that I didn’t recognize before, then that is just as great and possibly even better. I think that a lot of truly great writing starts with value in the heart of the writer, and progresses to touching others by exposing the deepest humanity of the writer and turning it into something beautiful that others can experience.
I probably didn’t write that last sentence very well. But I don’t care!