How many times have you heard someone say to you, “I could write a book,” or, “I always wanted to write a book. How hard can it be?”
Let me answer that last in one word. “Hard.”
The truth is, nearly everyone has a book inside him or her. It’s what you choose to do with that information that makes you a writer, or no. With writing, it’s more than just having the story inside you, and it’s more than just having a desire to tell your story. It’s much more than having an understanding of grammar, spelling, punctuation usage, sentence structure, syntax, descriptive vocabulary, pagination, styles, and formats and so many other things that make a sentence a sentence, a story, a story, and a book, a book.
Writing a story, or a book is hard work. There are a thousand things that must stay in your mind as you describe your story. Notice I didn’t say, ‘tell.’ You’ve heard that old adage; show your story, don’t tell, haven’t you? It’s the type of story we all challenge ourselves to write; one that shows the vividness of the story, not just tells the story with uninteresting words that lie flat on the page. We writer’s want our stories to engage our readers, to draw them into our stories and dare I say it, even become one of the characters in our stories. We writers want our readers to feel our stories and to remember them, eat at them, and then talk to all their friends about them. And the sad fact is, nearly every writer starts out by telling their stories that are swirling around in their minds, instead of showing their stories. Now me? I write as the lava flows. Let me tell you what I mean by that.
When I first began to write many years ago, I wrote crap. I did. And, that was okay. Because that’s pretty much how all writer’s start out, writing trash. Nary have a few of us written fluidly and poetically with descriptive vocabulary flowing from our minds and through our fingertips to our pens or laptops. There may be savants that pick up pen and tablet and write perfectly the first time, but I’m not one of those people, and neither are most of us. Most writer’s start out just like I have, writing trash, crap, or garbage. But that’s a part of the joy of writing for me, learning to become better. As time goes on, and I continue to write, I find the greatest joy in growing, pushing myself to be a better writer, and it’s a feeling like no other when people who’ve been reading my stories tell me they see tremendous growth from my first story to the stories I write today. It’s quite an exhilarating head rush. All that said, here’s how I identify with the lava flow.
Imagine a volcano, and that the stories I have inside me are the magma in its core. The magma comes bubbling up to the surface and percolates there for a while until the pressure inside the core builds to a crescendo and forces the magma over the rim of the volcano. This is when I’m compelled to write my story. As the magma spills its viscous glowing fire over the rim of the crater, all the words I’ve written in my story lie on the ground down and around the sides of the volcano, and many of my words are good, but some are crap, and like I’ve said, “that’s okay,” because as the lava begins to flow slowly over the words I’ve written, it scorches them and burns them to ashes, editing out those that aren’t very good and polishing the surfaces of those that are strong enough to withstand the fire.
After the slow process of burning the words, and editing out those that needed to burn is finished, I climb back up on top of the hardened lava to the crater and allow the lava to flow again and again. In the end, when the lava flows cease and harden into landscape, what I have left is a sparkling manuscript that is as fluid as the lava and shined to perfection that will withstand the test of time. Now that’s what I mean when I say, “I write as the lava flows.”