Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Hunger...

I started writing somewhere around third grade, as a way to escape my family’s home life, to run from the bullies on the asphalt playground, and for another reason that had and has nothing to do with escape. I love playing with words. I love the sound of words, rolling them off my tongue, curving them on the line with a pen or pencil. And, older, I love the speed with which the keyboard lets me pour them out.

I want to know how the story ends. Any story. The stories I wake up to and rush to write down. The story I catch part of as some movie trailer or television commercial flips by when my kids steal the remote. The stories in the books stacked beside my bed so high I can’t open my end table’s top drawer. I want to know how the stories in my head end.

The ones I don’t have time to write. That’s what this blog is about (you’ve been wondering where I was going with this, right?). I have a very full-time job—professors don’t just teach, they grade. And go to committee meetings. And grade some more. Plus, I’m a Mommy. So, for the most part, I have very little time to write between breaks—weeks, and now months have gone by. I’m hungry. I look at my plot chart and want to cry, or at least stare longingly. I can’t even count down—the day when I can write again seems too far away.

So, since I can’t really write now, I’m subverting my passion into characterization. So many writing advisors, columnists, people who know more than I do, tell me all my characters have to have a goal. What do said characters want so badly they can’t think about it, if they can’t have it? I know I have at least one of my heroines running away from something rather than to something. A problem with the story, perhaps? Or maybe the motive is hidden, an internal desire they know they can’t have (a full-time writing career perhaps) so they never have the guts to say it out loud?

I don’t think a real goal or motive can be something you are able to put off indefinitely without symptoms of malaise. In my psychology world, there is the idea that if you repress your desires too long, too much, you have only a few options. You stop wanting that thing and maybe learn to hate it. Or you start hurting yourself, or get hurt by an inner fire. Or the desire eeks out, some Freudian slip showing who you really are and what you really want. Or you can’t stop thinking about it, tell yourself that if you just do this, then you can have it. You make deals with God.
Do your characters have something they need so badly, that serious repercussions follow--to them—and maybe the rest of the world—if they don’t get it?

Coming Tomorrow: Trish Milburn blogs
Coming Thursday: Mai blogs
Coming Friday: Guest blogger Nina Pierce blogs


Anitra Lynn McLeod said...

I think if I couldn't write, I would go crazy. I would probably start talking to myself (well, more than usual!) and do other equally crazy things. I think writing keeps me sane because I can examine those burning desires of my characters from the safety of my office chair. :)

Lexie O'Neill said...

Thanks for the comment! I think maybe our characters should have "symptoms" like talking to themselves, and stronger stuff, too, to show that they really are hurting from desire.:)
Of course, many authors already do this, but so many put their characters through the wringer and everyone keeps behaving normal:)
Lexie, who is tired and her redneck shows through even her keyboard

Savanna Kougar said...

Lexie, profound blog. I can really relate to writing for the reasons you spoke about. Although, most bullies were too smart to mess with me. Having a hair trigger, and the moves to match if need be, is a good thing. One I've rarely had to use, and one I never think about it, it just happens. Like the kid who hit me hard with a toy rifle and ended up doubled over because I didn't think. I just plowed my fist into his solar plexus.
Okay, way off track here. Just giving you something to analyze...got a couch handy?
But I absolutely love words the way you described. And I have to write, regardless, or go more crazy than I already am. However, my lifelong path to this point in my writing, has been wickedly difficult for the most part. So, I write because that's what I do.
Being empathetic here, I wish you had more time for your writing. I definitely feel the pain.
P.S. For anyone interested, I'm blogging at Romance Junkies tomorrow.

Lexie O'Neill said...

Romance Junkies? Never heard of them. But I will be there tomorrow! Really, I'm learning a lot from being in this group. And, actually, writing these blogs feels like writing when I can't REALLY write.
Guess the RTers are traveling, sigh. I just graded a batch of homework, less than a week of classes to go!!!!!

Savanna Kougar said...

Lexie, if you have a moment or two tomorrow the web addy is ~ romancejunkies.com/rjblog ~