When I was in the second grade, if you’d asked me what I wanted more than anything in the world, I would have told you, “A desk!”
I’d been coveting one for as long as I could remember. “For my whole life,” as little kids are fond of saying. I could imagine sitting behind the desk with a notebook and pencil and writing stories, either little comics or short narratives.
My parents ordered the desk when I was in the third grade, after months of incessant pleading. It was supposed to be a Christmas present, but the desk that matched my bedroom furniture was backordered and didn’t arrive until six months later. On the very last day of school, I’d returned home and there it sat in my bedroom.
I wrote many stories behind that desk, either with pencil and paper, occasionally with the typewriters that we’d purchased in a garage sale down the street, then later with a computer.
Recently, I’ve been thinking about what it was like to write stories behind that desk, when I had no purpose other than the sheer pleasure of creating. Back then there was little if any expectation that anyone would read these tales but me, and yet that was enough. There was a story inside me that wanted to be captured, to be committed to paper and immortalized. Spelling and grammar didn’t matter. There were no rules back then. Only the story.
Then somewhere along the way, I wanted more: for others to read my stuff, to be published, to be “good enough” to be let in to the club of authors. Then there were rules, lots of them, and if you didn’t follow them, They wouldn’t let you into The Club. At some point, I wasn’t writing for me anymore. I wasn’t even writing for the audience. I was writing for the agent, the editor, the beta readers.
When did that happen exactly? Does this happen to all aspiring authors? Do we all go through that period of self-consciousness, following The Rules, telling stories the way we think someone else needs to hear them?
Can you remember a time when you wrote for the sheer joy of creating? How would your writing be different if you approached your writing sessions with that same unrestrained zeal? Please answer in the comments below! I would love to learn about your experiences!
_________________________________________________________ Brian Mercer is the author of the supernatural YA novel, Aftersight (Astraea Press, 2013). He is also co-author with Robert Bruce of Mastering Astral Projection: 90-Day Guide to Out-of-body (Llewellyn, 2004) and The Mastering Astral Projection CD Companion (Llewellyn, 2007). A board member of the Pacific Northwest Writers Association and senior editor at Author Magazine, he lives in Seattle with his wife, Sara, and their three cats. URL: www.brianmercerbooks.com