Sunday, October 25, 2009

Start All Over - A Writer's Journey with D. Kai Wilson-Viola

Today I’m pleased to welcome D. Kai Wilson-Viola to Writers in Business. She writes about writing, blogging, freelancing, artwork, supporting friends, publication, studying for a Creative Writing degree and more, whilst keeping her sense of humor, her wits about her and her purse always within sight.

The following post is from Kai’s blog, Work Back to Now and is something many of us experience in our writing journey.

Late last year, very quietly, I retired from writing. My last story sold about six months after – and only because I wanted to find out if I was right to quit.

Actually, that’s wrong. I’ll phrase it a bit more accurately.

I’ve always thought of my writing as water. It’s essential to life, refreshing, can poison, and be very bad for you in high doses, but it can heal. It can support, or it can turn on you. Elementally, I’m more at home with water than anything else. And water, with pigment is ink. If writing is water, imagination is pigment.
Up until last summer, writing was the ‘thing’ I did.

It was my ‘thing and the whole of the thing’ as Terry Pratchett would put it, but nevertheless, I had no reason to claim to be a writer, other than it was something I did. Writers are one of the luckiest – and overburdened – careers in the world. You need no qualifications to get into the ‘club’ – which is why, increasingly professional organisations expect writers to actually pay their dues by getting publication credits. Basically, you can say ‘I’m a writer’ – and bash out some words, and that’s it. I had nothing to show for it though, and I began to feel like a fraud.

That’s one of the worst feelings in the world – it creeps into you – insidious, and sickens you. It makes the water you’re drawing from that well brackish and bitter. Every word I typed, just for emails felt like a betrayal. The pigment I was adding wasn’t ’settling’ right, and in turn my pens clogged up (I know, I’m taking this metaphor WAAAY far). I even stopped journaling for a while.

For those of us that live and breathe our stories – those that pour our lives into writing, for those that dabble - anyone that writes for the joy of it, whether it’s once a year at the Nanowrimo, or daily, butt so far into the seat that it’s memory foamed to your rear end, it’s hard to explain. People think that writing is just sitting down and bashing out words.

And they’re right – that’s part of it. Another part of it entirely is being so drawn into it as a craft, that you can’t help yourself – giving in wholly and fully, till you’re a shell, and everything that you are is contained in the novel or story, essay or poem you’re working on (and thank god writers have stupidly good regenerative powers).

I’ve been telling people for so long that I’m a writer – that it’s all I can do to stop the noise and clamour in my head, that I’ve forgotten how to be anything else. But even then, in the last few years, I’ve burned out, and forgotten how to *be* a writer. I was going through the motions – like a relationship that everyone knows should have ended long ago, and is just a soulless shard of the passion it once contained – or a friendship that’s grown apart. I thought I’d grown apart from my writing.

Turns out – I hadn’t. One of the major aspects of head injury, of any kind, is disassociation – part of it is fear, because if you can *see* where you excelled and can’t do it anymore, where does that leave you? Another part of it is inability and tiredness – I barely cope with the ‘immediate’ around me, let alone anything else, so writing took a back burner. I worked on pieces for Uni (I’m two years through a three year degree in Creative Writing and Psychology) but…there was nothing there. It had caved in, or sealed, and I thought that was it.

It’s not.

It’s just the beginning again. I forgot the joy of finding untapped sweet spots, where it’s so pressurised and solid that stories gush free from underneath my feet – I forgot that if my stories are water, there are rivers, streams, estuaries, feeding back to the sea. And that it’s fine to bathe in them – it’s acceptable to dream, and revel and remember everything again. It’s a bit of a pain that it’s gone at the moment, but it’s OK.

I decided, because this is a fairly common ‘complaint’ of writers, and because I’m able to, that I’d blog this. So…start all over.

Take my hand, I promise I won’t let you drown; the water’s cold, and you might get a couple of stains in places you never thought of before, but it’s too much fun to miss. And you never know what those stains might invoke for you….

You can visit Kai online at Work Back to Now.

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