“When I write something that really happened, people read it and say, ‘Sounds like bullshit.’When I pull something completely out of thin air, I hear, ‘Wow, that was so real.’”—Steven Pressfield.
Where does this leave us?
Write what’s real, or make it up?
But don’t lie and say it’s real if it’s not.
Pressfield’s point is, Write everything as though it is fiction, even if it’s true.
I’m trying to learn to write since, for some stupid reason, I feel compelled to do it.
I remember the day it began. Well, not the specific day, but the place. I had driven my two girls to school, a 45-minute drive from home. One daughter was in the first grade, the other in the third. Sometimes I didn’t want to drive right back home, and often I would stay away the entire day. It took 45 minutes to drive back home, do a little work, then drive 45 minutes back to pick them up. That’s when I started to write.
Bless their hearts, they gave me a profession.
As I sat on a hill above Fashion Valley in San Diego, California, having just ordered orange juice and coffee, I asked one of those pertinent life questions. I had graduated from college and had my children. Now they were in school. My question? What do I want to do with my life?
“Well, I’d write if I had something to say.”
I wrote my first little children’s story that day. And I haven’t shut up since. I am not a verbose person, but I enjoy putting words on a page.
Am I an illustrious writer? Nope. However, I have filled copious notebooks since. I didn’t know about blogging then—come to think of it, neither did anyone else.
Some 40 years later, I had a book published. I remember reading that it takes 20 years to become a writer . I said I would do it, but I wanted a guarantee at the end of those years.
Life doesn’t come with guarantees, but I’ve had a damn good time with the process. This adventure has taken me to fascinating places. I studied and wrote about Cosmology—which is the origin of things. I told another writer what I was writing about, and he thought I said Cosmetology (About make-up and hair.)
I studied metaphysics and came to some understanding about where I was regarding religion and such subjects. I wrote about Africa, and I made up stories. Then, somewhere in the midst of it all, I became involved with horses and self-published a book called, It’s Hard to Stay on A Horse While You’re Unconscious, that no one can manage to spit out the title. To my detriment, I was rebelling against the need for short titles. However, it was pertinent, and in Hawaii, Mrs. Chiropractor got it right off the bat. You can’t navigate life too well when you are unconscious.
The unconscious part is both philosophical and literal. Sierra, my mustang, once knocked me in the nose, and I didn’t know what happened until I woke up on the ground. And there followed a week where I had racoon eyes.
I’m still trying to learn how to write. I still can’t keep my fingers on the correct keys, but so what. You plunge ahead, right?
So, Natalie Goldberg (Writing Down the Bones) was correct when she said, “Writing will take you where you want to go.”