Creating with joy: my work is mine to love

September is flying by. Two months from now, Steve and I will be leaving New Zealand and heading to Australia (visas pending… should probably get on applying for those). In the meantime, we have two trips planned (well, one planned and one planning-in-progress… can you tell I’m a bit behind on my to-do list?), heaps of people to spend time with, and a couple more items to cross off the kiwi bucket list.

The weather’s also starting to warm up (yay!) which has meant that my Septemberwrimo goal has gotten slightly off-track. Only slightly, I’m at ~24,000 words and I expect I’ll hit 27,000 at least by the time the month finishes, but I have no desire to sit inside on my laptop when it’s sunny and there are mountains to climb. But that’s not important. Even if I only write one word in a day I try to celebrate it, because it’s one more word than I had on the page before.

What’s important is that I’m writing a story I’m really excited about. I won’t give too many details (except to say that I hope there’s room in the genre for at least one more magical school-type novel), but–and let me put this in the cheesiest way possible–the joy I feel when I write a new character or work out a new plot point is the most magical aspect of all.

The best thing about creative writing is that when you write something you love, the thing you’re loving is your own mind. When I came up with one the character of my protagonist’s friends, my immediate thought was, “I love you, you are my child.” Now when I write a scene in which she features, I look forward to seeing what she does or says. Even though of course I am in control of everything about my characters, when I’m really enjoying writing it feels like I’m exploring ideas that are already present somewhere in my imagination, just waiting for me to pull them out and put them on paper (or in a Scrivener document, as it were).

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Sometimes writing is laborious, even writing “for fun.” Sometimes instead of feeling like I’ve stumbled upon the most beautiful garden that’s ready for tending or to pluck a couple of flowers and arrange into a bouquet, I feel like I’m hacking at rough, barren ground in the hopes of coaxing a few, dry blades of grass to the surface. Trying to get the creative juices flowing after I’ve spent the day churning out copy is often that way. But when they’re flowing, it’s like a Niagara Falls of creativity just rushing out of you and spreading across the page (sorry, that sounds a bit gross).

This is true for other creative work as well. I’m currently finishing up a jewelry class at a studio here in Wellington, and even though I’m a complete beginner so my creative input was pretty much limited to choosing what kind of stone I wanted to set in my ring and how wide I wanted the band, watching as I transformed it from a sheet of metal and a small cabochon to something shiny and beautiful that I’m currently looking at on my finger as I type felt similar to that “my baby” feeling I had when I came up with my favourite new character. The fact that I’m a good writer and a novice jewelry-maker means that I am far better at expressing my imagination in tangible terms with words than with silver, but the comparison is valid.

It’s about finding the right medium to express the ideas that are already inside. For the same reason as I can’t realise all of my jewelry-making ideas as a newbie due to a lack of physical skills, I can’t hand write my stories; my pen just can’t move as fast or as agile as my mind. But sitting at the computer, fingers flying over the keyboard, my body feels like a conduit for my imagination, turning thoughts into words and writing them down. Hopefully at some point they will be ready to read and edit and polish and share, but for now they are mine to love.


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