Judith Pratt

I love to write. When I can’t manage anything else—paying bills, calling my congress people, filing (I HATE filing but I keep a lot of bits of paper anyway.) Where was I? When I can’t focus on anything else, I can always write something.

Of course, if I have a Deadline of some kind, I focus on that, even if I’d rather be writing. Theatrical training does that to you. The show opens on Thursday and you don’t get an extension on your paper.

Writing never bores me. And I can write even if I feel too tired and disgusted to do anything else. Eventually, of course, even writing can fry my brain, and have to give up for the day. Still, writing for six hours will probably do that to anyone. I did that yesterday, for the first time in ages. That’s because I tell myself that I must first do my Chores, all that administrivia on my List. Only then can I have fun writing.

I wrote this essay because I need to keep telling myself that it’s the writing that matters, not getting the novel published or the play produced.

As a result of writing this, I’ve decided to write first and let the chores hang themselves. Because time is short. Because you never know. You never know when you’re a kid, either, but it isn’t so obvious.

Typing was one of the best things I ever learned, because my ideas will go out through my fingers quickly before they disappear. Sometimes, however, it works better to write longhand; not often, but if the pump needs priming, or if the idea hits me when the laptop isn’t around, longhand helps.

When I have a story to tell, the writing comes slower. I’m listening for the character’s voice, figuring out What Comes Next, feeling my way through that thing they call the Arc, or the Beginning, Middle and End. Or stopping dead because both my inspiration and my intellect go walkabout.

Before I decided that I was a writer, I was, and am, a reader. I tell people that I read the back of the cereal box if nothing else is available. Even though I don’t eat cereal from boxes. (I’d rather eat the boxes. Feh.) I read Facebook, which is horrible and addictive. And I re-read, mostly my faves: Austen, Beagle, LeGuin, McKinley.

I write because, like ol’ Keats, my pen (well, my keyboard), needs to glean my teeming brain. I write because it’s cheaper than therapy. I write because I have an active fantasy life. I write because the stories tug at my sleeve like a bored toddler. I write because I’m addicted; when I don’t write, I get cranky.

Excuse me, I have to go write a story now.