The day has started out a little strange, and doesn’t seem to be growing any less stranger. So be it. I live for strange. Put a little Madness on the playlist, and I’m good to go.
The story is humming like crazy these days. The last two Fridays I’ve taken the time away from writing to do other things. The last two days, however, have seen the story come together in a good way, and I’m not looking to kill the buzz tonight. That means I’ll be back into Chapter Five, bringing the last main character of this cavalcade of craziness onto the stage, and letting her take her place in my stylistic insanity.
I’ve seen a few people speaking lately of the difference between want and need. In particular, I saw someone starting an argument over why his need to own high-capacity magazines was no different than someone’s need to exceed the speed limit in their car, and how would they like it if he removed their need? Disregarding the fact that it’s a strawman argument, it does make one–namely me–think about the differences between what I need, and what I want.
Writing is representative of the want/need dichotomy. People who write, and who are serious about it, will tell you that’s not just the fact they want to write, they’ll tell you there’s a real need to sit down and tell stories. They’ll tell you that when they find themselves in a grove, they sometimes find it impossible to stop writing, that they’ll continue for hours before grinding to a halt. They’ll tell you of the times when ideas have come to them at the strangest times, and they have to find a way to get a few notes written down least they forget the story ever came to them. And there are the tales of someone waking up in the middle of the night, with a word on their lips and a story in their mind, and they get up ad head for their computer or typewriter or notebook, and they start scribbling.
There have been a few books written about this phenomena. Stephen King wrote On Writing a few years back, expressing his feelings on what it’s like to be a writer. Neurologist Doctor Alice W. Flaherty wrote The Midnight Disease–a book I own and recommend–looking at the urge to write and the link to creativity from a medical point of view, trying to make sense of why some writers could stare at a screen for hours and produce nothing, and why others could churn out ten thousand words without thinking it unusual. There are more, because as long as their are writers, someone will write about what makes a writer.
But one thing I’ve discovered in my journey to this sunny hillside I call, “You’re Almost to the Summit”: you can want to write all you want, but until you find the need to get your ass into writing mode, you won’t. And if you do, you’re going to find the endeavor unfulfilled and unsatisfying, and you will eventually find you could give a shit about story telling, and head off to kill time doing anything but creating.
The need is everything: it’s the driving force that allows us to put up with all the crap that comes with being a writer. You’re mostly alone, almost always plagued by doubt, and your career and success is all dependent upon people you may never see. What sort of madding job is that?
It’s the one we need to do.
It’s what I want.