Sometime ago, I wrote about why I chose to walk this often-times difficult path as a writer. Those were my reasons, but, like every human endeavor, one person’s reasons for doing something isn’t necessarily another’s—we are, after all, individuals. I thought it would be interesting to invite other writers to talk about why they chose to become scribblers and Anna Scott Graham was kind (or foolish) enough to answer my call. Thank you, Anna, for agreeing to be my guinea pig in this—with luck, yours will be only the first of many.
I’ve read some of Anna’s work. She’s very good and I am proud to invite her to this blog.She describes herself as “[a] California native, [who] lived in Yorkshire, England for eleven years, where a love of writing took root, as well as an appreciation for hot tea. After her first novel was published by a small press in 2009, she independently published The War On Emily Dickinson in 2011. A poet, music lover, gardener, baseball fan, and chocolate connoisseur, she is married and a mother to several.”
Translating the Essence
by Anna Scott Graham
Since I started writing with more than half an idea of what I was doing, I was fully aware of being led to the story and subsequent words by a muse; sometimes it’s music, sometimes it’s a current event. Sometimes it’s no more than a glance from a beloved, poking at something within my heart that comes alive, via a writer’s mind. I can’t help that, I was born with it. It’s like a musician or painter driven to sketch a sky or play a melody. It’s the way I breathe, through language, expressing emotion and plot via paragraphs and scenes and chapters.
Now, anyone can write words in correct order to make some sort of sense. Writing fiction is feeling a story within my veins, as a sculptor might ache to display a body or item through clay. It’s explaining what stirs my heart and soul, and takes up a considerable amount of gray matter; translating the essence, I coin it. But it’s not just revealing that story, it’s accepting that for as perfect as I want the tale to be told, I’m just a human being, imperfect, flawed. If I waited to release what is pounding within my arteries, I wouldn’t spin a single yarn.
Several drafts exist between crafting an initial idea and publishing a finished piece, be it an epic novel or short story. Yet with each round of revisions, the truer product emerges, as if being chiseled from stone. But a fine line wafts through the creative process, as if too much simmering spoils the broth. I am not a writer who labors intensely over every single word; I trust the muse, regardless of its form, to guide me correctly, and to protect me during every stage of the process.
Artists are special folk; we are susceptible to lags in spark, to criticism, to misunderstanding. The true artist longs to speak their mind, hoping to catch a few appreciative ears, but acknowledging not all will be open to our vision. And that vision has to remain fluid, for it changes, sometimes within the first draft, sometimes later on.
Sometimes that initial speck of story mutates into a completely altered tale, and that’s all right; it was meant to be something other than what was initially envisioned. The essence might be hidden under many layers of time, experiences, and skill. Stories I wrote years ago might have no other purpose except to enhance further tales, which could be simply to bolster my talent so X amount of years later I’m sitting once again, typing moods and settings and dialogue.
I’ve been at this long enough, with several drafts under my belt, to know not every story is meant for public consumption. But that doesn’t undermine its purpose; a writer’s essence is explored with every sentence completed. That takes bravery, to write for perhaps no discernible reason other than to write. An authentic writer knows that sense of needing to spill words onto paper, virtual or made from trees. Something aches to be said, a topic requires attention, or just a fleeting sense of this is who I am, right now.
Translating the essence can be as personal as a haiku. Or it can be as lengthy as a five-novel series. But it can be done in either, what should never be forgotten. Ideas should never be discounted, for upon one blooms another, spreading to further notions, which bleed into a plethora of thoughts, feelings, truths.
Even if they are rooted in fiction.
What I write today might only lie as the foundation of some other plot. But the human condition requires compassion, which in this somewhat civilized world carries a greater need than ever before. Art tempers the bubbling rage, explains the tragedies.
The essence asks only for my compliance. The results are far beyond my talents. I write, then trust. Then move on to the next fascinating topic that captures my attention.