Monday, February 27, 2017

True Love

"Do what you love," they say, "and the rest will follow." It is simple, almost obvious advice, but so easy to forget. I love to teach, I love to hike, do yoga, cuddle my dogs, hang out with my kids, and listen to great music. All those things and many more fulfill me and give my life meaning, but there is another, less worldly endeavor that strengthens, fills and enriches me, and that is the relationship I have with my writing.

This passionate relationship may not look like much from the outside, but as we who work in the trade know, it's as vital to survival as air, food and water. I don't know how other writers feel; all I know is that writing completes me. Maybe it’s because I grew up an only child, spent so much time alone, daydreaming the hours away. Or maybe it’s because I have found in writing a way to connect with other souls, to squash the loneliness and sort through the bouts of existential angst.

Like most loves, the source of my devotion to my writing is pretty much a mystery. All I really know is how it feels to be in the groove of a writing project, to work through the pain of uncertainty, and to see a book or screenplay grow from the seed of a little concept inside my head to a full blown mess and eventually, hopefully, something good and even perhaps worthwhile.

The best way I can describe the affair I have with writing is that it's a stewardship, much like parenting. In fact, the bond between myself and the work I create has many similarities to the bond I have with my children. For example, writing helps shape and define who I am. It enables me, in some small way, to attain immortality. I feel a certain emptiness and longing if I can’t be with my writing for a while. I get mad at it when it doesn’t behave the way I want to, and I am moved to tears during especially poignant moments. I sometimes feel totally hopeless and sure that I will ever be any good at it, just like I do as a parent. The parallels are practically endless, but you get the idea.

I have spent 30 years trying to “make it” as a writer, as if there is some mountain to climb to get there, when actually, the truth is, I’ve always been one and I'll never escape it. Sure, over time, I’ve become a more confident and experienced writer, but the signs were always there: The whispers of the next story that needs to be told, the deep need for regular space and time to write, and the tendency to experience life as one long stream of “material” for the next poem, essay, screenplay or book have all been a part of me since childhood. The bond is eternal, much like true love, and therefore it needs to be nourished and cherished as often as possible.

Candace Kearns Read is the author of the memoir The Rope Swing (Eagle Wings Press, Sep 2016). She is a screenwriter who has also been a Hollywood script reader for actors and directors, including the likes of Anthony Hopkins and Michelle Pfeiffer. Her screenplays have been optioned by producers and developed with Fox, Disney, HBO, and Lifetime. She teaches creative writing for Antioch University and the Young Writers Program at Denver’s Lighthouse Writers Workshop. She’s the author of the screenwriting handbook Shaping True Story into Screenplay, and co-author of the memoir Bogie’s Bike. Her essays have appeared in fullgrownpeople.com, The Manifest-Station, and The Rumpus.

9 comments :

  1. I wish I had come to writing long before I did. Instead, I found my passion late in life after other careers. It's no less a passion, but the time to learn and produce, which a writer never stops doing, was and is shorter. I even wrote a screenplay of one of my books, which I'd like to redo. It's a journey. So glad you fulfill yourself. It's important at any age.

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    1. No matter when you find writing, it's magical, and suddenly everything else makes sense.

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  2. Beautifully stated. The final line sums up the calling of a writer to perfection. "The bond is eternal, much like true love, and therefore it needs to be nourished and cherished as often as possible."

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  3. The post beautifully sums up what writing means to so many of us. I especially liked "Writing completes me." Made me think of what a writer friend once told me, "Writing is not just something I do. Like a job. Writing is part of who I am."

    I'm a believer.

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  4. "Writing is ... much like parenting." Yes!

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  5. Yes, absolutely -- "part of who I am." My stories come from somewhere deep inside, from experience, from the experiences of others, from what I see and hear and read. Try as I might to do otherwise, I eventually acquiesce to the stories' pleas to be told. Great post, Candace!

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  6. I did comment on this a few days ago...it seems to have disappeared. Odd. You have created a true love letter to your creativity and to the respect it deserves. Applause.

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    1. Thank you so much. It was quite spontaneous, and maybe that's why it resonates.

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  7. This pretty much sums it up for me, Candace. As you know, I have no kids, but I had a sneaking suspicion there were similarities. Your words are a truth and a comfort.

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The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.

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