December 26, 2010

Best of 2010 - 7th place: Worth the wait

I started writing at the age of sixteen. Actually I could have started earlier than that, but I figured that I needed to be a bit more mature, before I should seriously consider sitting down and putting my ideas to paper. And the magical number 16 seemed to be the perfect choice in this matter and consequently got chosen as starting point for my literary efforts. Obviously my thoughts tended to be a bit too serious for my age and they lacked a good portion of light-hearted decisions, which the freedom of childhood usually encourages. I had notebooks, I had pens, I had ideas. But I wanted to wait. It had to be perfect and that included the timing.

The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible. Vladimir Nabakov

What can I say? I'm a perfectionist at heart, always have been it seems, and spontaneity still isn't my middle name these days, but I'm improving. Anyway. Thinking back now, I even remember the exact moment, when I made that decision. I was on the backseat of my parents car, half-way between my hometown and our weekend residency aka summer home, and I always used this one-hour-drive to let my mind wander. I could have read a book just the same, but as much as I loved to read, I also got sick doing so in a car, so it was me and my vivid imagination and one fine day the decision that, at the age of fourteen, I was too young to start writing down those worlds I created.
The age of sixteen isn't exactly as mature as I wanted to believe as a child. I had to sigh and roll my eyes a lot when I started rereading what I had written as a teenager, but I could also see how my writing had evolved over the years. And all the junk I jotted down, was just a stepping stone to the writer and the person I am today.

The story I am writing exists, written in absolutely perfect fashion, some place, in the air. All I must do is find it, and copy it. Jules Renard, "Diary," February 1895

You might wonder, was it worth the wait? Would it have made a difference at all if I had started to just grab some paper and start writing when the first idea struck me? I guess we'll never know, but I like to believe that all those stories came (and still come) to me, because I showed my respect to them by my choice of waiting. In a sense, I was courting those stories, until they gave themselves to me to be put on paper.
I am the narrator. Their voice. All I have to do is inviting them in and listen.

But it's not only about the story, it's as much about yourself. And even though it's a bit of a struggle sometimes, I now know that those stories have a life of their own, which not only needs to be respected, but must at the same time be reared like a child. A story can't tell itself when you won't allow it to do what it wants sometimes. 'cause sometimes the story knows better than you do.

This is probably something that people, who aren't writers at heart, don't understand and will smirk about. But those who love to write as much as I do, will know exactly what I'm talking about. I hope. Or maybe I'm just strange like that.

Books want to be born: I never make them. They come to me and insist on being written, and on being such and such. Samuel Butler

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