Reflections on the Art of Writing by Susan Buffum
“Writing should be a labor of love, not an agony of labor.”
“I have no clue where this is going, but that is the joy of writing- going on an adventure, not knowing where the twists and turns will be. It is a journey through the funhouse that is my imagination.”
Holding my Minion-shaped USB in my hand this thought strikes me: “This is my minion, Stuart. When I plug him into my computer’s USB port and the titles of the files he contains appear on the screen I feel like how Howard Carter must have felt at his first glimpse into Tutankhamen’s tomb. ‘What do you see?’ he was asked. ‘Wonderful things!” was his reply. Yes, indeed, wonderful things.
“New characters were whispering in the wings and have now stepped out upon the stage in the theatre of my imagination. And we, the characters and me as their appointed scribe, are currently writing tonight.”
“I am either a writer or I have some high functioning form of insanity.”
“I never know what I’m actually writing until it’s finished.”
On writing fiction: “The best thing about writing fiction is tht you construct a world, populate it with characters from your own imagination, and then manipulate them within that environment that you have created, also from your own imagination, and anything can happen in that world. Anything at all.”
“It’s a powerful and profound experience to be the one in control of an entire world and its inhabitants.”
“It is humbling and amazing to be able to draw a reader into that world that you have created in your novel and to influence their emotions just by the use of words written ust so on the page.”
“I suppose writing is like staging a playhouse production- building sets, telling a story, directing a diverse cast of characters, and making at all come alive in the theatre of the reader’s imagination.”
“The thing about writing that constantly amazes me is that the story that I think I am writing when I begin typing always morphs and shape shifts seemingly all of its own volition, leading me down roads that I ordinarily would not have traveled because they are not rutted and worn by frequent passage, but are rather more mere paths that wend into dark, shadowed, wild woodland where anything can happen- anything at all.
The thrill of getting lost is visceral and real. The relief of following that unblazed trail and discovering something within yourself, within your own psyche, and forging a story from those shapes and shadows is no small feat for an author. It is an epic feeling of discovery mixed with the euphoria of triumph, of victory. You have conquered a world!
But then follows the soul wrenching anxiety of offering that world to the fickle caprices of the reader. Hope is so delicate, so fragile, so ethereal a thing…so easily shattered, so quickly broken. I suppose all writers suffer this duality- the ecstasy and then the agony when a story they have written is made available to the real world.”
“Another thought on being a writer- writing is a creative process, an engine that constantly runs within me. It thrums alongside the flow of my blood through my veins. It cohabitates with my ordinary, mundane thought processes but follows different routes through my brain, separate tracks, if you will. I can be sitting at my desk paying bills, balancing the household budget, or standing at the kitchen counter baking a batch of brwnies or preparing dinner, or sorting laundry, answering the phone, sweeping the floor- just doing normal ever day tasks or chores- but always on that other track in my head the little engine of storytelling is chugging along.”
“As a writer, I only capture a very minute percentage of the stories running through my head on a daily basis. When I sit down to write, I can only write one story at a time although there are many more stories pushing and clamoring to be told. It can be discouraging and defeating to lose so much because I am unable to write everything down. However, it would be even more devastating not to put down the stories that I do catch, like butterflies in a net, because to allow them all to flutter free to vanish into the void of lost memories would be like driving a stake through my own heart. It would be like killing myself, the stories and I are so closely intertwined.”
“My muse is the one that constantly stokes the firebox that powers the little engine of creativity along the track in my mind where inspiration flashes full steam ahead.! That is how writing is with me.”