The Journey Matters

Matt - Chaparral, New Mexico
Entered on December 9, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30

I’ve been telling stories in one form or another for as long as I can remember and the one thing that I truly believe is that the story matters more than the ending.

One question that I am asked more often than anything else is: Why do you try to write a novel in a month?

It is a valid question and fair to ask. Most sane people would not bother trying to cram a minimum of fifty thousand words into a thirty day period of time. It sounds crazy to even try while juggling a job and homework from a full time student’s schedule. Even being a student of English really does not help a whole lot. I admit that freely.

So why bother?

Every year it is about the same: cold and hungry, exhausting amounts of typing and very little sleep. Work piles up every day and so does homework. If it sounds unpleasant, it is. But I love the story; no matter what it may be. The choice always comes down to whether I would rather write my quota for the day or if I would prefer to read for class. In the end, this year, I chose to do both and ended up losing a lot of sleep, sitting in the dim lighting of my girlfriend’s apartment and squinting into a Shakespearean play trying to decipher the meaning of his words.

And always those voices ask: why?

Ever since I was little, I have been a storyteller. I remember how my brother’s brown eyes would widen in surprise, horror and happiness as a villain was cast down or the hero saved the day or any one of a number of other clichéd actions that a child’s story takes would happen. I remember when I first discovered the power of words, which had always before been seemingly mystical symbols that only the big people could understand.

I remember sitting in my family’s house, staring at the words on my father’s books and wondering what secrets they held in their battered covers. How could the thoughts of a person I had never met before transmit from their typewriter to my brain? It never made any sense to me and still doesn’t, the more I study into the nature of language and how it really has no relation to what it supposedly represents. In that respect, it seems that my childhood belief that writing was magical has proven to be correct!

The idea was utterly intriguing to me and still is. The power hidden in the simple symbols of our alphabet was driven home even more every time that my young eyes looked at the pictures on the cover of my father’s Dungeons and Dragons novels. Wizards, often complete with long white beards and robes, held thick books and read from them to wield amazing powers. Who wouldn’t want that?

There is more magic to writing than many people would admit. Telling a story allows the writer to weave their own world, whether it be real or imagined. It is a sort of telepathy and I have been more than pleased with the joy of taking a journey with others through my world.

Writing is, for me, a kind of primal urge. It is an urge that cannot be ignored anymore than breathing or the need to eat. Writing a novel is comparable to fulfilling that same basic need. The road, during that frantic month of typing, is hard. I would never dream of trying to make the experience sound like something pleasant. It just isn’t. The task is even harder than normal and there is precious little payout after the book is finished. But, like any given novel, the ending is usually a let down.

That is because the journey is what matters, not the destination. I write because I love to write, not so much because I love to finish. The journey is what matters.