This Saturday we (me?) talked about the Essay Box. Short recap:
“Waaay back when I was applying for college (one day we’ll get into my college story, but it is not this day), I had to write a lot of papers explaining my “why”. Why I had chosen the majors I had chosen (at the time those were Film and Dance)
It was….a miserable process (I wrote a post about it here and am expanding on it now). Essay writing was never so painful as it was then. It was like pulling teeth from a hungry hippopotamus who thinks your face looks like a snack. I slaved over trying to write my “why”, hating everything I wrote.
…When I sat down to write those essays, I sat down to write an essay… I sat down in the Essay Box, and couldn’t move.”
So we went over the “structural” issue of sticking myself in a structure that didn’t allow (or I didn’t allow myself) to express myself as me, as a creative person.
But there was one other issue that I had when trying to explain my “why”.
I didn’t feel like my “why” was “special enough” (once upon a time there was a sheep that wasn’t special enough and it has become one of the longest running jokes in my house). I want to write good stories, because I know how important good stories are to people. It’s that simple, and I thought that wasn’t special enough (I know this sounds really sad and pathetic, but it really isn’t. I wasn’t crying in a corner feeling like I wasn’t “special”. I was more feeling like no one would think it’s special and thus I won’t get accepted into college. It was more a frustration of “WHY MUST I DO THIS????”).
I thought I needed a profound mission statement. What need was I trying to fill? What goal was I trying to accomplish with my stories? What got me out of that twin bed in the morning?
But I felt like writing (or any art) is a good thing, why did I need any reason more than that??
So here’s what I’m getting at: if you’re like me, and you feel like you don’t have a profound mission statement to offer on “why you write” think of it this way instead:
I had to write a cover letter recently, and instead of trying to give some fakey spiel about all the profound reasons I write, I told my story instead.
I told the story of why I write, not the reason. We’re writers. We write stories. So why are we trying to be reasonable???
Because at least for me, the story of how I started writing is why I write. I can’t get to my “why” without telling how. And I think our how makes our why more meaningful as well.
If you’re a business or nonprofit (well, you are not actually a business, as a business isn’t a conscious entity), you probably have a mission statement, “Save the sea turtles” or something.
And that’s great and all, and people will be like “aw! I want to save the sea turtles too!” But you know what will really get people? What will punch people in the gut and make them hand over all their moola? Tell them a story. Tell them how you came to care for sea turtles so much. Anyone can say they want to save the sea turtles, and give a bucket load of reasons why the sea turtles should be saved (including just in case you ever get stranded on a deserted island). But how did you come to realize this is what you wanted to do?
(and how many times am I going to say sea turtles in this blog?)
Our hows and or whys are interlinked, and we shouldn’t forget that.
In other news, I am 34k words into NaNoWriMo, and the end is getting close in sight (only 16k words left!!!). The end of my story however is getting no closer, and actually seems to be getting farther away, as I am still not finished with Part I (I divided the story into four parts. And if they all end up being like 40k words that’s….160,000 words total (yikes)). (Though I already can see a lot of things being trimmed.)
But I’m really falling in love with this story, and the cast of characters is growing quickly which is both fun and annoying (annoying meaning I have to come up with more names. Oi). I’ve had a low number of fight scenes (for me at least. Like…I think there’s only been two so far? *gasps*) BUT there’s more COMING. But there has been a good deal and creepiness and moodiness. And snark.
And ice goblins.
(OH, and the weird thing I had to look up recently for this story: how long does it take you to die if stabbed in the heart?) (“I swear I’m not a murderer” I say as the FBI shows up at my house).