Wednesday, April 19, 2006

On Being a Writer

I have been thinking again about writing my own novel. It’s been a long time gone since I gave that any serious thought. Most of the time I find these thoughts are easy to push aside. I just remind myself that one thing that seems consistent among authors is their continuous, overwhelming urge to write. I don’t have that. I never have. I’m not that disciplined and am easily distracted. So, does that mean I’m not author material? Who’s to say? I’d hate to come to my death bed and regret not trying to write a novel. That being said, not wanting to regret not doing this or that on my death bed hasn’t stopped me from not doing those things before.

Reading Southern Daughter, a biography about Margaret Mitchell, is definitely encouraging thoughts about my own writing. Learning about the good, the bad and the ugly in Peggy Mitchell’s life is really inspiring to me. It was her strengths just as much as her flaws that made it possible for Scarlett, Rhett, Melanie and Ashley to be born. Perhaps there is a story somewhere that could only be written by a procrastinator with my life experiences. I’ve also enjoyed reading about her writing process. Other than originally naming Scarlett “Pansy,” (we can all breathe a sigh of relief here) the most interesting thing I have discovered about Gone With the Wind is that Mitchell actually started writing it with the very last chapter. I have never been more satisfied with the conclusion of a book as I have always been with Gone With the Wind. Knowing now that she started with “I don’t give a damn” only increases my admiration.

All of my creative writing professors drilled the same mantra into my head – to be a good writer you must to read, read, read. I am planning on reading biographies on other authors I enjoy in the future. You never know when or where my waxing and waning desire to tell a story will collide with just the right direction and inspiration.

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