I was about to start writing about my experiences visting the writer's haunts of Paris, then I realized that this short piece I wrote for an assignment in a writing class sums up my history as a writer quite nicely (and I hate reinventing wheels) so here it is - the Paris part will follow tout suite!
When asked to describe myself, I often use the word "writer." I like the way it sounds, the images that it conjures of a mad poet awake until all hours scribbling frantically into a notebook because what he has to say will vanish into thin air if he doesn't get it all out as fast as he can. This image stems from my romantic teenaged ideas about Bukowski and Baudelaire, authors posessed by inner demons that could only be expelled by putting pen to paper and living tortured and decadent livee. I am a poet at heart - I have examples of four line cuplets that I wrote when I was six years old.
But the word "writer" is nice because it can also refer to a journalist – an intrepid traveler scouting the globe and documenting her experiences one hairy situation at a time. I just recently was hired as a freelance journalist for a nightlife magazine - not quite the same amount of responsibility, but the situations could get just as hairy....
I write fiction as well – stories both long and short and I one day hope to finish a novel. It used to be very easy for me – as a child and teenager I was quite prolific, filling binders decorated with band names and logos with hundreds of pages of fiction. I have just recently started again, writing short character studies and even working on a script for a graphic novel for a friend who is a comic book artist.
When I write regularly it does something wonderful to my brain – I stop and stare at the most mundane sights, I listen to people differently, hearing new things in familiar voices. Words become play things, like children's blocks that I can move around and manipulate. At the risk of sounding pretentious, I feel somehow more myself, more alive when I write.
I have gone through long periods of writer's block. Throughout much of my twenties I have written little other than academic essays, with the exception of the last year. When I stop writing or slow down dramatically, it becomes incredibly easy to not write, a skill and a hobby that falls by the wayside as I choose to watch films or read instead. Ideas still pop into my head, but with less vibrancy and frequency. When I wasn't writing I certainly didn't text myself ideas when no paper was handy like I do now. Writing can be urgent for me.
Reading is like fuel for my writing. I was a voracious reader as a child, taking out the public library's maximum allowance of books per week and racing through them. Children made fun of me for using big words, but it didn't – couldn't – stop me.I still read fiction constantly. Studying does cut into the time that I have for pleasure reading but I still try to squeeze it in as every book I read changes the way that I write. I do have to be careful – at various times I have found myself imitating the styles of Hunter S Thompson, William Burroughs and others a little bit too much after reading their books.
Despite giving myself the moniker of "Writer" I have never been published. Part of this is laziness. The literary world seems so vast and overwhelming that I don't know where to begin. Even my website, with its twelve hundred readers, could be a lot more popular with agressive promotion. Part of me likes that my poetry and fiction is just for my friends and I to read, but the other part craves an audience, especially for the pieces that I like the most. I plan to get more serious about getting published once I have graduated.
Academic writing is a challenge for me – certainly more challenging than the random collections of pretty words that I churn out on a daily basis. The main reason that I am taking this course is to shave off the more casual, personal feel of my papers. After five years away from school, I also want to refresh my brain in the art of academic discourse, re-build my confidence and ensure that I am prepared to correctly write papers across the disciplines that I am taking. Who knows – maybe I'll even write a poem about it.