I believe in the power of the written word. Books can move me to tears, or, conversely, fill me with joy at the triumph of a character. Writing and reading are both such a huge part of my life that I hardly even think about what I type or read—I just go along with it. I’ve discovered in my several years as a writer that well-developed characters end up living in my head, telling me what to put down. I’ve also found that I have very little control over what they do and say. Stubborn characters can be a bother sometimes.
I often have an ending planned in my mind for a story, but how it gets there, I usually leave up to my characters and their personalities. Unplanned writing, also called “seat-of-the-pants writing”, tends to be more fun for me than a story planned to the very last. If I plan too much, I almost immediately lose inspiration and the storyline drags. It’s the exhilarating “chase of the muse” that makes story-writing fun, and wacky, unplanned things can happen in a story that makes it much better. Any true writer will know that his characters are much better storytellers than he is.
The written word has an incredible power over the minds of man. It can light a fire of passion in those who read it, whether the story be true or false. The spoken word has a similar power, but the written word is much more enduring. It’s always an amazing event when a child discovers the magic of words, whether it’s the “first word” or when they learn to read. I certainly remember that monumental event in my life when I discovered words.
I can really only remember vague details of how I became hooked on writing, which is even better than being hooked on phonics. It was two years ago, and I was randomly surfing the ‘net for something, well, random. But I came across this . . . site, this forum, and I discovered something called role-playing. Oh, I’d heard of it before, in the D&D sense, but not quite in this way. Play-by-post role-playing. Huh. That was a new concept, so I started clicking around for more information. Writing stories with other people? I can do that, I told myself. And indeed I could. Although I used unnecessarily large words, I thought I was good at this thing, this hobby. My first site wasn’t terribly advanced, just horrible one-liners, but it was the start of something new for me. I’ve since moved on, gone beyond my first, but I’m sure I’ll always remember that site with fond memories of such sweet naiveté.
For me, the written word is everywhere I look, in nearly every thought that runs through my brain, and I can’t help but think about how to describe the tastes that linger upon my tongue. It plays such a huge part in my day-to-day life that I can’t help but believe in its power.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.