Warning! This is going to be a ramble. You might want to grab a cup of strong coffee (a double-strength painkiller might be helpful, too), and make yourself comfortable, ’cause you’re going to be here for a while (if you can stand it, and don’t run off after the first paragraph or two… which I wouldn’t blame you for doing. Now’s your chance ….).
What? You’re still here? Okay, then, don’t say I didn’t warn you! 🙂
I really do love to write. But I want to write whatever I feel like writing. I often don’t want to follow a topic and a schedule. Terrible, right? But hey, scheduled, topical writing feels like WORK. I want to write because it is fun, because I enjoy it, because there’s an idea I want to explore, because I’m passionate about something I’ve learned or discovered and I want to share it, or because I have been thinking (usually with amusement) about some event in my past and I want to tell that story and amuse others, too.
Maybe some of this has to do with the fact that so much of my life is “brain work”: especially all the tutoring and editing I do for necessary income purposes. By the time I’m finished a day of “thinking work,” my brain feels worn out. I just want to do something that’s relaxing and fun. Ironically, writing accomplished that for me during all those years I was raising my five children, working in physical jobs (all that housecleaning and cooking and gardening and other mothering and wifely activities), even operating an orchard, building a new home for our family, working at Tim Horton’s and other restaurants and bakeries, and so on and so forth. After a day of those kinds of activities, it really was relaxing to journal (I have about 200 journals packed away in boxes–I bet my kids someday will have a great time roasting marshmallows over a giant journal bonfire!), take photos and write about them (you can find some of that in my Penticton Pedestrian blog if you happen to be mildly interested), interview people and write local newspaper columns or create news items for radio broadcasts, and other entertaining writing activities like that.
I am definitely a life-long-learner sort of gal, and I love sharing my new discoveries with others. Writing is, of course, a fun way to do that. (Am I using the word “fun” too much? But hey! For me, writing is fun! At least writing, the way I personally think of writing … which often doesn’t match up with “real writing” according to a lot of writing experts. More on that later). Anyway, I’ve done a lot of that “sharing” through at least 8 or 10 blogs and/or websites I’ve operated over the years (not to mention my inveterate habit of posting interesting articles up on various social media groups I belong to: perhaps I do overdo that a bit, but again, it’s truly fun sharing new ideas and discoveries I’ve made). Likewise, I enjoy developing and writing educational curriculum, posting on spots like my little store on TeachersPayTeachers and answering questions on my Quora page.
I also greatly enjoy communicating with people and building relationships with people via writing. Even when I was a child, I had lots of pen-pals, some from as far afield as Japan. As a teen, I was part of a group of teens who had fun trying to outdo each other by writing “headache letters” of 15 to 20 pages with an aspirin taped at the top! To this day, I still handwrite letters (not as often as I would like to; hmm… I should do something about that, eh!) and I write a LOT of emails.
In my school days I never thought of myself as a writer, though I did enter contests from time to time, and did win a few, even ending up on TV once. That was definitely fun! But like my school writing, it was always nonfiction. Writing at school was just fulfilling the requirements of assignments. We didn’t write fiction, although I certainly loved to read fiction; my Canadian Centennial project was to read 100 books that year; 6 months in I’d passed my goal, and just kept up the pace for the rest of the year, no longer keeping count. The first time in school that I heard of “creative writing” was in grade 12 when the school offered it as a course for the first time. I signed up for it, and during the second lesson I got in a huge argument with the teacher in front of the whole class (who watched open-mouthed as I’d never thrown a temper tantrum in school before), stomped out of the room slamming the door behind me, and went to the office and signed out of the course. (I sometimes wonder what direction my writing might have taken if I’d stuck it out. Nah. Two class sessions was enough for me!).
University was also assignment writing … and exam writing. Having never written a final exam in high school (with sufficient marks, we could get “recommends” and not have to write finals), writing final exams was a rather major shock to my system, but I soon figured out how to sound intelligent in essay exams and managed quite well after all. Anyway, I did take one writing course (titled “creative” again), which turned out to be all nonfiction as well (still, I learned to be “creative” with my “nonfiction” which is a habit I’ve never been quite able to overcome, despite my childhood training to always tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth … but ya know, being a bit “creative” is a lot more fun, don’t you think? I sometimes feel a tad guilty about it, but it just … well … tumbles out! And I can’t do anything about that, can I? I mean, I don’t do it intentionally….
Ironically, I ended up teaching English and Social Studies, both of which require a lot of writing (or at least they did when I taught them!), and also became a teacher-librarian. I even taught fiction writing quite successfully. Go figure. And eventually, I also because an editor—both fiction and nonfiction, and even poetry. Life takes some interesting curves.
I have learned to write creative nonfiction quite well—especially memoir and short stories based on my life experiences (with some creative humour tossed in, yep). But “true fiction writing”? Nah. I’ve tried. Really, I have. Even did NaNoWriMo 3 times—the whole 50,000 words in a month, even did 60,000 once. But know what? It just isn’t ME. I enjoy writing about whatever I happen to be thinking about in the moment, telling stories from my life, writing about my current interests and passions, sharing ideas with other folks. (Yes, I know, I already said that. Redundancy is bad. So I tell others when I edit. Just not so good at avoiding it myself. Sorry! Sort of…). Unfortunately, I struggle with the thought that “enjoyable writing” (fun and relaxing) isn’t “real writing” nor is it particularly creative.
Still, in the past 30 minutes I’ve just filled nearly 3 pages, in my tiny handwriting, in my journal (And now transcribed it here for your enjoyment–I assume you’re enjoying if you’ve managed to stay along for the ride all this way?!?). And I’ve decided that, even if this isn’t “real writing” like the “experts” call for, since I have had fun doing it, and yes, have found it relaxing, it must therefore be real writing for ME! So there!
That was fun!