I tell people I’m writing a short story, a poem, or an essay. I tell them this is the reason I can’t go out for a drink that night or even enjoy their company. They pretend to understand, but I know no one truly does.
The next day, I’m always asked, “Did you finish it?”
And as usual, I always respond back with another question, “Finish what?”
“The book you were writing. Did you finish it?”
It’s difficult for us writers to even attempt to explain the process. I’m not sure if my process and the time it takes me to write one simple short story is normal for a writer, but what I do know is it’s MY process. It works for me.
When I write, I need to separate myself from any outside interference. Mainly people. To write, and to write effectively, I can’t be around chatter, people sitting close by, people in the same dwelling as I am. I need to seclude myself and put myself in a special mood. It takes time. Sometimes minutes, sometimes even days. My source of inspiration has always been nature, in the middle of wilderness with nothing but the wind catching my attention. I’ve created secret places where I can write that I’ll never reveal to friends. I disappear.
About 75% of my writing process is brainstorming and coming up with the story in my head. My characters become so real to me and the circumstances I put them in are (at times) so twisted, I mourn for them, with them (like with my Macabre Collector’s Series books). I suffer with them. I pre-write the story in my head, research, then finally write it.
I recall when I was working on my Senior Writing Project many years ago in college. I had written chapters 1-17; then 19-21. I deliberately skipped chapter 18. I recall coming back from one of my private hikes where I would simply write my heart out, and I told my roommate that I couldn’t believe what happened to Character X. I spoke about everything that would happen in chapter 18 (the unwritten chapter) as if it were real. It truly was real to me. After I explained it, I remember he sat there on his bed, dumbfounded as to WHO this Character X was. And, if my memory serves me right, I believe he even asked if this Character X was someone with whom we attended classes. When I explained it was simply my Senior Writing Project, he shook his head and told me that what happens to Character X, doesn’t have to happen–I’m in control of it. And, I thought: Bad things have to happen to people, or else they would never learn–in real life and in my stories. It was my responsibility to write it as it came to me.
In my head, and from a writer’s perspective, writers are Gods. We create and we destroy. We reward and we punish. And yet we, too, mourn. No one wants to punish or destroy their creations. We, writers, mourn. We, writers, grieve. Most often we emote privately because no one will understand why such grief, so it’s easier to do it in seclusion.
Writing a short story (or anything, for that matter) is an experience for me. It takes time. I can’t just write the story and say it’s completed. I have to let it become a part of me, put everything I have into it, until I have nothing left to give. It doesn’t happen overnight. Writing comes easy for me. While, what I perceive to be, the psychological aspect of it overwhelms, and is truly the difficult part for me.
When I’m asked if a story has been completed, I say “no”. My writing is never done. Once one story or poem has been written, I write or re-write something else. If one is creating a world, and desires for it to be perfect, does one ever sleep? Is one ever done?