The Writing Bug


Obviously, I like to write. Why would I have a blog otherwise? I’ve had the writing bug for so long that it’s difficult to remember a time in my life when I didn’t want to weave words together to tell a story or make an argument, or put lyrics to the music in my head. I have an ongoing love affair with words that’s stronger than almost any other relationship I’ve ever had.

While I was packing some boxes in my room last weekend (countdown is 40 days!), I came across a “notebook” of poetry, looseleaf notebook pages bound in one of those pocket folders that has the brads in the center (its former use: AP U.S. History) with extra pages of favorite lines — mine and others — stuffed into both pockets. I was overly precocious, and I had an unnatural addiction to rhyming, so going over the poems I wrote during my freshman and sophomore years is as amusing as it is inspiring. I feel like Taylor Swift, only without the guitar skills or the record deal.

There are other poems in there too, though, poems I wrote during my college classes in creative writing and poetry, and they’re certainly worth a second and third look. What’s more, there are snippets of stories — a page here, a paragraph there, sometimes nothing more than a snappy line — and the urge to write a book returns.

The urge to write a complete novel is like the urge to have children, just as strong and consuming though in a different way. It’s the yearning to take a part of my soul and use it to create something entirely new, the product of myself but so much more than the sum of its parts. I want to see the stories that play out in my head play across the page, and I want others to feel the joy, anxiety, anger and fear that I do throughout. Simply loving the written word may not be enough, but I’m not merely being conceited when I say that I am a pretty damn good writer and that such a skill is not, I believe, one that can be picked up through classes and lessons. You can tone it and shape it as you would a muscle in your body, but one is either born knowing how to write…or one isn’t.

I need to stop making excuses. I need to go back to carrying a notebook and jotting down my random thoughts before they escape. I need to take an hour a day or three hours over the weekend, any committed chunk of time and just write without the distractions of family, friends or Facebook. I need a goal, and here it is: a week to brainstorm, then no less than 12,000 words a month (about 40 pages at 300 words/page) of rough copy from February on. By the end of the year that will give me 440 pages, and my secondary goal is to get at least 110 polished pages out of the draft. If I can accomplish that, then I’ll be well on my way to fulfilling one of my longest-held dreams.

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