When I was in high school and writing a fantasy novel, and two of my cousins and another dear friend were also writing fantasy novels, writing was the most romantic thing on the planet.
I think that almost everything is romantic when you’re in high school, and you have all this energy waiting to be spent, and all this passion to do things as you realize that you are a self who can do things.
We all wrote letters to each other (my cousins lived, sequentially, in Florida, Texas, and Tennessee) and exchanged chapters on a regular basis; and if I could ask for anything as a writer, it would be that self-motivated joy of watching the pages emerge from beneath my fingers, of having a fat stack of them collected next to my bed. The thought of it makes me itch to write a novel.
Inspiration was our friend then, the driving force behind writing. We talked and wrote about it with a capital I. It got us in the car, doing school at the kitchen table (we were also all homeschooled), out walking in the woods. But the best times were late at night when you were almost asleep. It grabbed you, a sudden clarity in the fuzzy, black thoughts that you drop off to, and it was utterly important that you sit up that very moment, no matter how hard it was, and write.
At some point I wrote a (needless to say?) very bad poem to Inspiration, an ode that I invented my own stanzaic pattern for (and was I proud of that!), and my fellows loved it. Because this was the sure sign that we were called, chosen to be writers in a world in need of our words: this waking in the middle of the night, this touch of something from beyond ourselves that moved inside of us.
Whatever the external and internal circumstances that lead to this experience, I don’t have it very often any more. I suspect it’s partly because I am no longer a teenager; partly because I don’t write often enough; and partly, I like to think, because I no longer search for it or rely on it. Real writers write whether they’re “inspired” or not, and when it comes, it’s a gift. I get really nostalgic for that inspired time; but I don’t want to relive it. I don’t expect the future to look or feel any more like it than the present does, and that’s good, the way it’s supposed to be.
All of which is pretty commonsense. But you know, tonight I am in my old bed, thinking things about Place and Belonging (which might make it into a blog post), and when I got too sleepy to really think–there it was. A scene. The inside and outside bits. The dialogue, the gestures, the thoughts. Boom.
The latter half escaped me before I got it down, which is frustrating, because it did exactly what I’ve been trying to do since realizing this character existed. But part of the realization was that I simply needed to get my character out of the house, stick him in a room with another character and have them talk. And for the first time in a long while, my eyes popped open, my feet swung out of my bed, and I wrote.
And then wrote a blog post. At 1 a.m. Which I might regret later, but for now I’m hitting publish and then going to sleep.