Writing, reading, and creating

When I was in college, it was a requirement that undergraduate students take several different courses that included a writing component - specifically to prepare you to express yourself through written language.  I took several courses specifically for writing (Creative Writing, Contemporary American Lit, etc.) that we were instructed to provide some feedback or use some creative processes to talk about our thoughts and emotions regarding pieces of poetry, novels, etc.  It was all very academic, but the one thing I really enjoyed was the ability to explore ideas beyond the bounds that the professors assumed we had in our limited student minds.  If you could come up with an exciting idea, the professors I had were really great in that they let us explore them deeply, as long as we were ready to back up the ideas with some sort of background story, or verifiable source of information.

One of the hardest things about writing is really having some good information to start with, and some research to support your ideas. None of the early American writers that I know of always used validated sources for their creative writing, but they did have a way of expressing their ideas that I think has been lost over time as more and more textual information has been published.

I'd love to author a book; I'm thinking about Science Fiction as a genre.  But, I have no idea what the basis for the book would be, or how it will unfold... I just want to write something.  I've been reading more books lately, some Orsan Scott Card and a few other authors in this genre, and I believe that I could write a compelling story... but where to begin?

I'm sure my college professors might laugh and say that you have to actually write something down first - then you'll know where you started.  I don't know if that's enough though.  I see writing a book, short story or whatever it may be as a HUGELY daunting task.  I find that possibilities are endless, but narrowing it down, making it something worth-while, and actually engaging a reader seem so out of my grasp.  Perhaps co-writing a book is a good place to start.  Mr. Misanthropology was an English and teaching major, and I would think that he would be the most likely person to co-write a book with me.  But all those things I'm afraid of are still present because even if he decided he would cooperate with me, the whole point is that you have to work together to accomplish something worth doing.  I find the thought of that most unnerving.  I wouldn't want to begin working on writing something unless many of the pieces were already in place in terms of story outline, character development, and plot... but when you co-author with another person on a creative work like this, you have to be very open to being flexible about everything that holds the story together.  Their ideas are just as important as yours, and one has to be ready to accept criticism and adjust the direction to suit the needs of everyone involved.  It's like trying to drive a car with two steering wheels, and two sets of pedals.  You want to have the same goal, but the way in which both of you get there may be completely different in each of your minds.

I don't know if my age has anything to do with it, but I feel like I'm too young to worry about stuff so inconsequential as this...  I definitely want to try to break into that field... but it's something to think about, and I believe that having at least something that you created noted somewhere in the annals of history should be everyone's goal.


  1. My first thought was, "I'm not co-writing anything with someone whose shared items include 'I have a crush on manbabies.com'," but I guess I am a contributing writer to your blog, so I've already broken my own rule. Just as a statement of fact, the manbabies website, like everything else on the internet (goatse, Zero Punctuation, etc.) started on Something Awful (link below).

    I've found that the hardest thing about writing is convincing yourself that you've got something interesting to say. Even if you accomplish this, you've got to keep yourself convinced through the entire process instead of getting half-way through and telling yourself, "this is shite and everyone will know it, and they will know that I and everything I think is shite." This torment of the writer is why I've been polishing my latest blog post for a week and I'm still not done.

    I've been reading Douglas Coupland's "Girlfriend in a Coma" this week, and it's been quite a ride. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that it was published in the year I graduated high school, or maybe it's just that I find Coupland to be an incredibly resonant and relevant author to the ways I think about life, but I've found the book to be both moving and surprising. It has a central theme, but it keeps shifting gears and exploring that theme in different ways that still work together as a whole. I need to demand that book club re-form or my posts may just start becoming reviews.

    Back to what DougV wrote, it's a very human thing to want to leave an impact. I don't know if that urge get's stronger once you have a kid or if that helps satisfy one's obligations to the universe. Myself, I find that I've been vacillating between two competing and equally true notions: nothing I do matters; everything I do matters. Which one is true at any given moment depends on a number of things. Right now, nothing matters because I have a headache and I'm going to stop writing now. Ask me later in the day.



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