Let me give you a no-bullshit assessment: Being a writer is a disheartening life choice somewhat akin to asking Fate to put you on the Sisyphus jogging team. It blows rocks.
Writers are thick on the ground where I come from in New York. You couldn’t swing a dead feline without hitting one. Everyone’s got a short story, novella, full-length trilogy or movie script tucked away somewhere that they’re just dying to slip under someone’s door. Everyone’s aching to get a shot at the big time. I, sadly, am one of those crazy masses just trying to get something together. My name’s Shoshana Kessock, I’m from Brooklyn New York and if I have anything to say about it, I’m going to get published. This blog is going to follow the process of my grinding away until it happens.
This wasn’t always going to be my plan. Originally, I wanted to be a police officer or a teacher. Not so strange, when you think about it: I’ve got this hard-on for helping the community and (get ready for the big capitol letters) Making the World A Better Place. This is what I was taught since I was a little girl, that your job is to Make the World A Better Place. What that meant exactly, I never quite understood, but I read a lot of things (mostly comic books) and I thought I knew a basic idea. I wanted to help people out of jams, protect people, that sort of jazz. What I didn’t realize while I was doing all that is that I had a particular talent, you see, for doing that helping people thing in one way: I told stories. I could put together a mean sentence that could inspire, that could bring an idea to light, anything. And while I was slaving away, trying to lose weight to go into the Army (that was part of the whole Be A Cop plan), I was neglecting that little bug that lived in the back of my brain that said write this down, don’t ignore me, you know I’m here, now listen to this story idea and put it down on paper, get out your damn laptop and STOP IGNORING ME-
Anybody who has ever had the writing itch knows what this is. This, ladies and gents, is the writing fever.
It starts when you see something that intrigues you. You think ‘hey, wouldn’t it be great if that happened like this’ and suddenly you’re crafting the start of a whole tale. Now, if you’re anybody else but a writer, you put it aside, you run it through a quick fantasy, and that’s that. If you’ve got the writing fever, that itch? Then it just sits there and gnaws at you. Your eyes glaze over and suddenly, you’re gone and thinking about a whole world of ideas and if you could just get them down on paper, then what would it turn into? If you don’t get it out on paper, you tell a friend. Or you blog about it, in modern day, or you put it up on YouTube or you just forget about it. If you’ve got the itch real bad, sometimes that won’t do it. Sometimes, it will just keep gnawing until you have an outlet and the idea has been given birth to and then its gone.
That’s what being a writer is like for me.
Here’s what that does to my life. I work at a part-time job while going to college full time. I also run a role-playing game (yes, I’m a gamer, so that gives me an outlet) and try to have a social life. When the itch comes, sometimes I can’t write, because I’m too busy (classes, work, whatever) and then? Then it starts to get annoying. And if I don’t do it for long enough because I have to go vacuum or go to the gym, it starts to actually be more than annoying. It starts to get downright irritating and then I don’t know how to describe it. It feels like, to steal a term from Stephen King, like my brain is ready to do the junkie jive. So I suppose you’d say that to me, being a writer is like what I imagine being a junkie is like. You get it out there, you write, and by God you have to, because these ideas won’t stop.
I didn’t write for a long time. I didn’t have the stones for it. Rejection is a bitch, ladies and germs, and I didn’t like the notion of having to put myself up there to get pot-shots tossed my way. But I couldn’t stop writing. I would start short stories and stop. I would come up with novel ideas and toss them aside. Then, on a whim, I took a writing class and… yikes, the floodgates just about killed the hoover dam in my brain and out it all has started to come. I’ve got more ideas than I know what to do with.
Now? Now, I’m serious about it. I’ve done things like the NaNoWriMo writing challenge two years running and pumped out stories that were, while not my best writing, good practice. I’ve taken more writing classes and I’ve started talking to people at conventions (gamer conventions are great places to meet people). I’m taking advice where I can and getting my stuff together. And this time… I know what I gotta do.
No matter what, I gotta write. I don’t care if it means staying up late, not going to that movie with friends, or cramping up my hands due to typing too much, I’ve got ideas that just need to get out of my brain and onto paper. And so this blog is born. I’m going to chronicle what I’m up to, what I’m working on, and what I’ve bee doing to drive myself onward. I want this blog to be an inspiration for me when at the end of the day, when I’m discouraged or just plain tired of all of it, that it was worth it. I’m going to keep working and this blog is going to remind me of why.
Because in the end, I want to see my work in print. Because I might not get to be a police officer (that’s still up in the air) and I might not be a teacher or someone who saves the world, but I’m going to write something that somewhere, touches someone in a good way. I’m going to write something that gives someone a good time at the end of a sucky day of work. I’m going to do this because these characters are alive in my brain and they want out into the world to say hello. I’ve got dozens of them, hundreds maybe, and I’m going to let them come out and say hello. Because while writers may be a dime a dozen? I’m going to quote an author that I adore, Jim Butcher, who said that being a writer is like being chased by a bear. You don’t have to be the fastest one, you just have to be faster than the other guy. I don’t have to be better than the authors out there, I just have to be better than the guys around me who want to be authors. I just have to Do Something.
Because, in the mathematics of my brain, when I Do Something I can get to my goal and maybe Make the World a Better Place in some small way. That’s my goal.
So welcome to my brain. Step over the old plate of cookies, don’t trip on the cat, and come on in.
– Shoshana Kessock / Summer 2008