My on again, off again relationship with writing

“And I flew over the handlebars like superman”.

I was in the second grade, and the student teacher was reading my story I had written as an assignment.  She drew special attention to this line of my story, telling us about a “simile”, and how I had used a very advanced form of writing.

The story was basically this: I had gone to stay at my cousins house with my brother for a few days during the summer. During that trip, my cousin Justin showed off his motorcycles–and we raced around in circles… Well, about 15 laps into riding backseat to my older brother, I begged and pleaded to be able to take the handlebars myself. Instead of letting it slowly idle, as instructed, I revved it up, and headed straight for the rough, splintery wooden fence. Last I remember, I turned to see Mike and Justin yelling “TURN!!! TURN!!!” and waving with both arms, frantically, with the universal sign for turning. I didn’t turn the bike–but I turned my head away from them, to stare that greyish brown fence down as I flew over the handlebars like superman.

A few slivers removed from my chin and hands, followed by a heavy dousing of hydrogen peroxide, and I was as good as new–well, except for the wounded pride. See, younger brothers HATE being a burden to cool, older brothers and cousins…and I had officially changed from the younger brother who wasn’t too bad of a tag-along, to the younger brother who ruined a perfectly good motorcycle adventure. But then again, that’s what younger brothers are for, right?

Suffice it to say, I have had zero desire to own a motorcycle since, and even had a bit of a phobia of driving one for quite some time.

But more importantly, because of the attention given in that 2nd grade class, a shy, slightly chubby little blond kid felt “like superman” for an instant, and in that one little instance, developed a love for writing. For the first time I was publicly recognized at being good at something. So that little story turned into more short stories through the years, as I pushed limits in various directions. Junior high and High School’s writing  was all about westerns and action stories, as my friend and I tried to out-do each other in our description of violent gun-fights, and barroom brawls. College I turned more introspective, mostly journaling my feelings and frustrations about dating, grades, etc. After college, I’ve tried various genres and types of writing–but mostly just writing to write.

What I find most soothing and therapeutic is just taking a spiral bound notebook, and putting pen to paper, without stopping for 10-20 minutes. I had a creative writing teacher in college that taught us to “tap into the jugular” with this form of journalling. She said if you don’t worry about punctuation, spelling, or anything else–and just write whatever comes to mind, eventually you will tap into the deep wells of creativity within you, and you’ll be amazed at how many good ideas come up. I’ve literally started such writing exercising writing “I don’t know what to write, I don’t know what to write, I don’t know what to write, so I guess I’ll think of something….” then off it goes…. Next thing I know, I’m piecing through something deep within me, something troubling me, possibly an insecurity or an important decision.  I highly recommend it. It’s one of the best ways to understand how to work through various situations in life, it feels quite freeing, and it’s a heck of a lot cheaper than therapy.

The thing is, as great as writing is, and as much as I feel this constant pull towards writing for pretty much my entire life–I frequently get off track, and start stories or novels I never finish. I have stacks of spiral bound notebooks that are anywhere from 1/4 to 3/4 full, representing different times where I would start over–recommitting to writing each day, first thing in the morning. I’ll go for a while, then stop for a bit. This is what frustrates me. I feel like I could write a novel, maybe even sell a few copies at whatever mega-bookstore is still in business, but for some reason I peter out. It’s almost like going to the gym for me, where I never feel BAD after going to the gym… I never regret it, but I get out of the habit. And why? I mean, think about that. When’s the last time you regretted exercising? Never, right? But how much reluctance do you feel about exercising, especially when you are “getting back in shape”?

Well, that’s how writing is for me. I’ll go strong for a few months, writing something every day. Then just like that, get into some TV show, or get lost in a book in my spare time. As recent as 3 months ago, some friends and I formed a writers group where we could give each other feedback, as we are all apsiring novelists. I showed up to the first meeting with a full outline of my novel, excited to discuss. I got fantastic feedback, but after that, my excitement died down, and my storyline felt more like a new friend who at first was fun to hang out with, but became dull and not as fun to hang around. (or perhaps a younger brother who wrecked my cousin’s motorcycle?)

The other members have gone on to finish their novels, or come really close. I dropped off the deepend–not writing anything, before finally launching this blog–with the intent of writing something ALMOST every day. You can see by the publishing dates how that has gone…

But to sum it all up, I know I’m not the world’s greatest writer–but that’s not why I do it. Writing to me is a lot like running is for people. Very few runners of any marathon actually run it to try to win… but yet thousands run. Why? For many reasons. For the feeling of the run. For the feeling AFTER the run. For personal accomplishment, etc. But the point I’m making, is you don’t have to be a world class runner to be a marathoner any more than you have to be a best selling novelist to be a writer.

And what I’ve found, is writing is like that best friend you have known your whole life. If you go a few days without seeing them, or a few months, you pick up right where you left off. And they welcome you with open arms. Things might feel awkward as you try to remember what to say, but pretty soon you are right back into the warm rhythm of good conversation.

So if you enjoy writing, I encourage you to do it more often. It helps in a lot of ways, or at least, it does for me.

 

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4 Comments

  1. Jeremy Lee

     /  November 17, 2011

    I kind of took one of your suggestions and ran with it on a recent blog. Trying to get back to writing more myself.

    Reply
  2. Hmm…very introspective. Deep. Heavy.

    I like it. Keep at it. Way to go, Craig.

    Reply
    • Craig

       /  November 25, 2011

      Thanks Dan. It’s weird how much fulfillment comes from writing. It seems to make everything more focused. As corny as that sounds. How goes NANORIMO?

      Reply
  3. Craig

     /  November 19, 2011

    Jeremy, I like the new blog idea. It’s a great place for those types of stories, and I really liked the story you created through free writing. Thanks Dan, for your comments and your readership. I think you make up about 50% of the readership–the other 50% I responded to earlier in this comment.

    Reply

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