I think about writing all the time. It doesn’t matter how many stories or series I’m currently writing, editing, outlining or dreaming up, the simplest detail of a day, a conversation, a house on a hill, the taste of a new type of tea, can set off inspiration that will undoubtedly distract me from whatever I should be doing.
Not that I’m complaining. I’d far rather too many ideas than not enough.
But these stories come because I love exploring new ideas, new interests, hobbies, and places. When I say I’m Ravenclaw, it’s not because I consider myself the sharpest crayon in the 96-pack. It’s because I’m creative and eternally curious and often at the same time.
I’m a writer.
I’m a journalist, a classic car enthusiast, a start-up company founder, a recent Nashville transplant, a Jersey girl, an art historian, a life-long reader, a rudimentary Italian language speaker, a feminist, a baker, a ranter, a raver. I raise plants and cats. I’ve lived in a 14th-century castle. I listen to audiobooks obsessively, practice yoga, love the outdoors and dream of flats in Paris.
What do I do when I’m not writing? The things that will inspire me. The things that make me happy. I watch television shows with complex female characters. I learn the difference between baking soda and yeast as rising agents. I read about Da Vinci’s scuba diving inventions and asexuality.
None of this is to say look at what an interesting and well-rounded person I am. We are all interested and well-rounded people with hobbies, books, adventures, and pasts that shape us into who we are. It is, instead, a rant about how in order to be good little creatives, we must first live our lives. In order to tell stories of grandeur, we must walk our own city streets.
We may write heroes and heroines on the high seas two hundred years in the past. We may write vampires or royals or pastry chefs. We will likely not run into these characters at the park. But we will hear conversations when we sit in coffee shops to taste new tea flavors. We will watch mothers interact with their children in age-old dances that could fit in any era. For every recipe we learn, for every historical fact that imprints itself onto our memory, we become better people and stronger writers. When I’m not writing, I’m living my life in a way that will make me a better writer. In a way that will make me curious, excited, passionate and interested.
When my boyfriend first moved in with me three years ago, I had to clear out tons of papers and I ran across old high school transcripts. Journalism, writing, history, 101%, 100%, 99.8%. Calculus, physics, chemistry… well, let’s just say it wasn’t that, yeah? (Awful, positively awful.)
I imagine if I’d been in a school with better resources and teachers who hadn’t been beaten by the system well before I’d arrived, then that might have been different. As it was, those subjects didn’t interest me, didn’t inspire me, didn’t make me want to explore new ideas and opportunities. And so I didn’t give them the time of day.
Yes, I do occasionally need to do things I don’t enjoy. Sometimes I need to go to the DMV or submit resumes. Those are real-life classes where I’d probably score pretty low. But the rest of the time, the in-between times, the what-should-we-do times, the morning, noon and night times, I’m following the moment’s passion, learning something new and trying something different.
Because at the end of the day, even when I’m not writing, I’m always, always thinking about that next story–even if I don’t know it yet. ♦