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THE NEED TO WRITE
Ann wanted to be a writer, more than anything in the world. She reminded herself of this, as needed.
What she didn't want to do, apparently, was write.
She thought a lot about writing. She thought about things to write about -- no, that wasn't accurate. She didn't think about them; she waited for them to pop into her head, as happens with all real writers. She thought lots about how much she had a writer's heart: the need to be a writer. What she hadn't come across yet was the need to actually write.
She took a class at a writing school. Ann took just the one class. The other students did not have the raw talent she knew she had, and while she admired the teacher's patience to help non-writers write, she just didn't have the time to spend giving insincere compliments to classmates about pieces of average writing. A couple of the other students, those with more classes under their belts, were pretty good writers, and Ann got it that there might be value in taking a few more classes. But she just couldn't wait that long to become a writer -- it would take more than a year to chalk up just three or four classes. And she knew -- well, she sort of knew -- what she wanted to write about, and that didn't include "eating apples" or "the day the cat died."
Ann read books on how to be a good writer. She selected how-to-write books written by her favorite authors. They all offered acknowledgements to the people in their writers' groups, but Ann didn't see herself heading down that path. Not until she could get into Stephen King's group, she told herself (sort of kidding and sort of not). There must be a local writer's group. In fact, she knew of a few because her fellow students were in groups. Some were even in more than one group, although that seemed to her like writing infidelity. But she didn't want to hang around writers, drinking lattes and sighing over whatever it was they all sighed about. She wanted to be a writer, not to become a writing pal.
She did a lot of work toward her goal. She bought a lightweight laptop she could have handy whenever the Muse (whatever that was) struck. She installed a program that allowed her to dictate right into the word processing program. She hadn't tried that for writing yet; she'd practiced by using it for e-mails, and it wasn't perfect. Nothing less than perfect would do once she'd actually started her first novel. She wouldn't be able to start writing until she found a program that worked.
She tried writing by typing and by writing by hand. She learned she was a paper person: things flowed out of her mind so much more naturally that way
She hadn't settled on whether to use a pen or pencil yet. That mattered a great deal because she had read how important editing is. Some how-to websites counseled doing the first draft without any self-editing whatever. Get it all down on the paper, and critique yourself later. Don't stop to change a word or move a paragraph or even -- for God's sake, talk about overkill -- run spell-check. That system had benefits, of course, but then did that imply that only pen was acceptable? That pencil would constitute a mortal temptation to erasurehood? And when it was time, how best to edit? Erase, or make a line through unwanted phrases and add insert carets? Editing is complex. She needed to think that over.
Ann considered these matters carefully, at-length, and frequently. She knew that the only thing stopping herself from becoming a successful writer was developing her personal "writing tool box." Would an ordinary Bic do or should her pen be something with more heft, more weight in the hand? Something that cost more, so that she would automatically protect it more carefully against loss? This was not going to be just a pen, of course. It would be akin to a fine violin, an artist's most treasured possession.
That sounded important, so she went online to find the perfect pen. A pen that would reflect her writer's spirit -- not masculine but feminine, not girly but rather serious. Luckily the web had hundreds of choices available. Searching for the just-right pen took a few days, and of course she couldn't start without it so she had to wait for the delivery. She was also delayed because her family kept interrupting her thoughts so they could get food. She thought about how difficult it is to write, and how little understanding others have of the trials. Her children failed to respect the fact that shopping for a pen requires long stretches of uninterrupted time.
Making all these necessary preparations was slow going. There was time spent selecting the best room in the house to use, time purchasing lined paper of differing widths and differing formats -- spiral bound in wide, narrow and college widths; loose leaf paper in the same three widths; legal pads. Her favorite authors all had their personal preferences, and they mentioned them in their how-to-write books. Each author said that their preferences had developed over time, but Ann knew it must be best to figure it all out at the beginning. Just think how many more perfect-the-first-time pages Stephen (she felt comfortable presuming a first-name basis since they were clearly souls cut from the same cloth) could have -- no, would have -- written if he'd known from his very first sentence that his Muse demanded a fine point pen. Sad that he'd not put off writing until he figured it out. She would avoid that error.
Ann would sit down seriously to write, just as soon as all of these preliminary issues were decided. For she did so want to see her name on the cover of a book.
She figured she'd be ready to start in just a couple of weeks.
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