The greatest story ever written is in my head.
I carry it with me everywhere I go, sleep with it at night and flick through its endless mysteries every spare moment I have.
If you asked me how long it will be, I couldn’t tell you. Nor could I tell you when your digital copy will be available to download at a very reasonable price.
I don’t know what the jacket will look like, although I know it will be a thing of beauty. And I have no idea what the name of the main protagonist is, nor his relationship to the mysterious and shadowy person who may appear at the end of Chapter 19.
Occasionally, I consider leaving my paying job, taking a few years off under the wings of social security and committing myself—body and under-paid soul—to completing my magnum opus.
I convince myself that the real reason this best seller has not yet materialized is due to the cruelness of my daily grind. While my job pays my bills, feeds my children and asks little more than my showing up, it also sucks me dry of my creative juices.
I tell myself it is solely responsible for creating the couch-sitting, pizza-devouring husk who perches nightly, staring at the latest episode of the Japanese dating show of his choice, instead of putting in the hard hours it takes to truly create. If I were free of these shackles I would write—truly write—like Milan Kundera and John Steinbeck. Obviously, it is not me who prevents my true, writer self from emerging, it is my job.
This leads to the possible title of my first novel: Confessions of a Self-Deceiving Idiot.
My job is no more responsible for my failings as a writer than the pizza that was delivered an hour late or the allure of my five year old’s time-consuming new computer game. No, the real reason I can’t put my words of fiction down on paper is because I’m too busy creating works of fiction in my mind.
If I spent half the energy actually sitting down and writing as I do justifying why I don’t sit down and write…well, I’d be a writer.
Charles Bukowski, who spurned paid work for the uncertainty of the written word stated:
“There’s nothing to stop a man from writing unless that man stops himself. If a man truly desires to write, then he will.”
This has always confirmed my absolute failure as a writer, as if I were weak of will and determination. It’s like writing is a land to be conquered only by the most determined of adventurers, those born stern of thesaurus and stout of dictionary.
It creates the impression that writing is a vocation of exacting standard and circumstance; of complete and consuming sacrifice and commitment. I, of course, with my need for comfortable housing, the occasional night out at the movies and the touch of Egyptian cotton sheets, don’t meet these standards.
Yet, you know what has happened recently?
I’ve begun writing in spite of my failings.
I still have no idea how long it will be or where you can get that reasonably-priced digital copy. What I do know is I’ve written 10,000 words of a story and it wasn’t out of financial desire or ambition.
When I sat down and contemplated why I feel compelled to write, I realized it had nothing to do with the alcohol-fueled excess of Bukowski or the soul-scraping truth of Steinbeck. I write because it’s fun—pure and simple.
It’s a warped kind of fun racked with uncertainty and frustration, but fun none the less.
So then I asked myself another round of questions. What would I write if I could only write one thing? What would I create if I only created for myself? What if the only audience for my work was the grinning, typing fool who was doing the work in the first place?
Since then, I have been indulging my every fantasy. And the result has been a rich, raw world where every character, texture and detail is wholly my own. Every paragraph is a joyful expedition into my story. It will probably never be published as it’s geared to an audience of one.
I am creating for the joy of creating itself. The invisible chorus who would praise or criticize my work was only ever in my mind and they can’t compete with the rush of creation and pleasure that comes from my recent achievement. These days I create to feed my soul.
I’m not writing the greatest story ever written. That is still rattling around inside my head.
I’m just writing and that, for now, seems to be enough.
Author: RW Adams
Editor: Nicole Cameron
Image: Drew Coffman/Flickr