By Victoria Buck
A writer once used social media to direct this question to other writers: Do you write to avoid doing other things? This was something to ponder. What sort of things? Do I twist the plot to avoid cleaning house? Do I write another chapter so I don’t have meet the demands of running a small business with my husband? Do I spend Saturday afternoon editing the junk out of my manuscript so I don’t have to go shopping with a friend? I couldn’t say that, yes, I write to avoid doing other things. I’m guilty of the opposite. I do other things to avoid writing.
Why? Because it’s hard work. Sure, there’s the deep satisfaction of taking a project from the spark of an idea to a finished work. The longing for validation is fulfilled by a publishing contract. The marvelous feel of holding your own book is undeniable. But it takes so long to get there. And then it doesn’t take long to realize you’ll never get there. Once you’ve got that book in your hands, the work is not over. Selling a book is a whole new kind of hard. The validation fades when you realize you didn’t write a runaway bestseller. And even if you did (I imagine) you’re only going to want write another one.
As it is, you wonder if you’ve ever written anything worth reading and maybe you should just be happy taking care of the demands of your busy life. Maybe you should just go shopping. But then a new spark threatens to set your imagination on fire and your unwilling fingers, once again, peck at the keys on your laptop until your husband pops in and asks what’s for dinner. Wait, did you just write for three hours straight to avoid cooking dinner?
The quiet struggle between writing and avoiding it keeps me balanced, I suppose. The love and hate of the rhythm of my fingertips on the keypad reminds me this is something I dread, and something I won’t stop doing. I’ve put it off when life presses. I don’t enjoy writing until my shoulders ache. I hit the backspace after almost every paragraph. When someone tells me I’m easy to read–that my writing flows–I guess I should take the compliment and not try to explain the fight.
I’ve lost myself and found myself in writing. Confidence is a frequent loss, as is patience. A character can take up so much room in my head that I don’t think like myself anymore. The more I write the less I want to talk. I’ll forsake the outing with a friend to spend the day with someone I made up.
But I’ve learned more about myself by writing fiction than I ever would have if I’d let real life keep me from it. The deep stuff hidden behind the wife, mother, cook, housekeeper, business owner, church member comes out when I write. It makes me stronger. I’ve found a better person behind the writer. A more loving woman. A deeper commitment to sharing the Gospel in creative ways as only a writer can.
Avoiding the chore of writing is part of the process, at least for me, of getting the words to turn out right. As for what I’ve lost, it’s nothing, and what I’ve found means everything. But perhaps I’m not quite there–I haven’t found it yet. There’s always another story. And I know I’m going to give in and write it.
Victoria Buck is a Central Florida native. Wake the Dead is her debut novel. Killswitch is the follow-up to book one. Transfusion releases next year to finish the trilogy about the world’s first transhuman. Victoria clings to the gospel, serves in the local church, relishes time spent writing, and curiously contemplates the future.