The other day, the wife and I were talking about the challenges of being a writer, and she said something interesting to me.
I’ve been struggling with adding more depth to my stories, going beyond just the exciting action scenes and the intriguing plots and actually getting into the character growth and development.
This is what she said: “But if you spend all of your time writing, how are you going to actually experience the things you are trying to write about?”
That really got me thinking! If I am struggling with something that many people find so easy, could I be going about my writing the wrong way? Could I be trying to write without actually having lived the experiences that I am trying to write?
Henry David Thoreau said, “How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.”
Basically, he’s saying, “You want to write? Get up and live something first, and then sit down and write about it!”
How many of us try to write about something that we really have NO idea about, when we could write something amazing with the stuff that we do know about?
For example, she brought up the concept of being a step-father, dealing with children who still love their biological father, a totally insane person who I perceive as a truly horrible man. I am eternally struggling for the love of the children that I take care of every day, and yet he swoops in for a weekend and all of a sudden they see him a model father.
This could make an AMAZING concept for a story, even if I changed it around and eliminated the father/child relationship. It could be a political story, a religious story, and so on, but using the same themes of fighting that eternal fight against overwhelming odds.
If I wrote that story, I could take the feelings that I have every time these things happen, and infuse them into the story that I am writing. It wouldn’t be a struggle to add depth simply because the depth is already there, within me.
It’s a tough question to ponder, and one to which I have no answer yet. I’m going to keep working on the series that I’m trying to launch right now, but when I’m done, who knows what kind of story will come out. Perhaps I may find it within me to write from the harsh experiences that I have had, a story that tells the world a little about me…