In the beginning was the word.
Lower-case ‘w’ in this case, because I’m not trying to sound all pompous–but seriously. I can hardly remember a time when I wasn’t either writing or reading. I wrote my first short story when I was four, and I was writing down words here and there, and reading books, long before that. I wanted to be a writer as soon as I had a consciousness that it was a thing one could be; a profession the world would let one get away with having. I didn’t feel like I had much choice in the matter–I felt pulled to put words together, the way some friends of mine drew things, like the starships from “Star Wars”, or invented planetary landscapes.
I still feel that way. Just because I have a book contract now and thus a working relationship with a publisher who’s more than happy to put what I write out into the world doesn’t change the fact that I would still do it, even if everyone in the world told me not to; even if the only publishing outlet I had was to staple a sheaf of pages together and copy them at Kinko’s.
Thank the gods it isn’t that way.
Being a writer is my way of making sense of the universe–through the invented landscapes and characters of my fiction–one of whom has her own blog not too different from this one–and also through occasional blog entries like this.
To be honest, writing about myself–in this naked, unrevised form–feels almost paradoxically false and forced. I often tell people that if they want to know me, read my stories. My highest, best truth about how I see the world is there. But there’s a usefulness in letting the other voices fall away sometimes; to step back from pen and page and assess things. Because being a writer, to me, is about being able to walk between the worlds–the world of the everyday and the world of the magical–and about being able to shift from one mask to another–to put on the various roles that one assumes in the functions of life–son, friend, lover, husband, student, teacher, musician–and yes, writer. I’ve played all these varied roles and more, to one extent or another in 42 years and counting, but no matter what I do, I always come back to the words on the page. I’m sure I always will. The stories I write, and the places and people in them, may not be ‘real’ in the strictest sense of the word–but it’s in them that I find a truth that is unwavering. And so, in every beginning–for me at least–there is the word.