This last weekend, I wrote the first chapter of a novel. I enjoyed it immensely, far more than I expected. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that it has tainted my day job. And it has both calmed and increased my frustration in various ways. My mind is drawn to the the plot, the world, the characters (whom I need to name), and how to infuse the messages that I want to tell the world.
It's like learning to ride a bike, or drive a car; once you experience the control, you want to see more and more, go, do, be someone new.
My wife has written five novels already. Most still need revision, and none have been published, but she has written beginnings, middles, and ends to five novels! I've supported her in this because it is a wonderful endeavor. She has always wanted to be a writer and I have seen how it helps our family by stabilizing her happiness.
I've looked at her creative work and writing time with envy. It feels like watching a good friend get promoted, build a dream home, and move away. Maybe. I've never actually had that happen. But I do feel the same yearning for creative outlet, for a freedom of expression and self-determination that I don't think I have right now. And up until now, I didn't know how I might achieve it.
I provide for a large, young family. It consumes most of my energy day by day. I have no real discretionary time. Sadly, my other interests are too much like my work duties and so I can't stomach more of the same with my spare time. I need something outside of my obligatory employment that can regenerate my energy, not sap it more. Somehow, writing that chapter was that missing activity.
I awoke Saturday morning with a few sentences to start a story that I really wanted to tell. Since we didn't have any obligations that morning (which is all to rare), I decided to just start writing and see how far I could get. I wrote a page and a half of the story, thinking out each step and where I wanted to initial chapter to go. The story started to take on its own life and I knew I had something flowing. It was wonderful!
The kids got up and the day commenced. I had to put the writing aside before I was ready and I continued to have thoughts and insights throughout the day. I had to re-image the computer lab at work that morning and it was all I could do to not postpone the work and write!
When I returned, the usual 1001 tasks, projects and needs took over. Friends came to play. It was almost midnight before everyone else was in bed. I just wanted to write down the ideas that had simmered all day!
But when I began, I just had to finish the chapter. Despite having church meetings all morning that would start at 6:45, I was up until 3:00am Sunday morning, but I finished writing and revising and then sent it to my wife to review that day. Despite the exhaustion, it was a wonderful experience. This is what I have been missing for the past few years, creativity and personal expression!
So now that I have started a novel, can I claim to be a writer? Or do I need to wait until I finish a novel? Or publish it? Well, whatever. I'm writing and I will write more. Some day, I hope to have a lot more time to write, to think, to dream, to communicate.