Monday, September 10, 2007

What Makes a Writer?

An unanswered question--much like a plague--has always been present since I started writing with the goal of publishing:

What the hell makes a writer a writer?

Excuse the slip of the tongue, but I can't understand. Many authors' blogs have an entry where they describe their childhood, their obsessive reading since birth practically, and their above average writing/learning ability since a young age. They've been praised and encouraged repeatedly by teachers. But I haven't. While my teachers think it's a good goal to aim for, it's more like a "pat on the back, do your best" kind of encouragement.

So maybe what I described are the good writers, the ones who can make a living off their love. But where does that leave people like me? I love to write, but I was never a compulsive reader. I liked books, but I did not read or buy hundreds of books in my lifetime. In fact, I'm a slow reader. I pronounce each word in my head as if I had my own little narrator present. I studied speed reading and practiced implementing tips I received, but I could never do it. I grew discouraged because I could rarely finish a book in the allotted time. I'm a sparknote user. SPARKNOTES, people, can you believe it? A writer using sparknotes? A self-respecting, author-wannabe using it? As far as I know, that's unheard of. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, an amazing book and story in my opinion, is one of my all time favorites. I used sparknotes for the last half because I could not keep up with the rest of the class. Yes, I'm that slow.

But another question arises: does a writer who rarely reads have a different goal than other writers? Or better yet, can they even hope for the same goal?

I was born a writer not from reading, but from dreaming. I wanted to make something happen because I couldn't find anyone else who had wrote it. I wanted someone else to write it though, just so I could read it straight through, but I had no such luck. I didn't write because I felt compelled by an unnatural force; I still don't. I'm completely the opposite of most writers who say they feel sick or agitated if they don't write that day. I feel perfectly fine. No burden on my shoulders.

My loyalty lies not with writing and the English language, but with my characters and the story itself. If I don't write it, who will? My characters deserve the chance to be read, for they have an amazing story to tell and important lessons to pass on. While others had a defining moment or story in which they realized they wanted to be an author, I had no such thing. In fact, and you'll laugh, the reason I wrote a story was because I wanted a crossover between DragonBall Z and Sailor Moon that didn't obliterate original pairings from the series. Yes, go ahead and laugh. I know I do. I wrote fanfiction for three years, with little reviews, but I wrote because I liked it. I liked controlling characters and playing with them. (As I matured as a writer, I realized just who was playing with who, though).

Anyway, the point is, I'm not like other writers who have this deep passion. Does that mean I'm not capable of becoming a great author, of being a famous one? (Who doesn't want to be well-liked and well-read?) I realize my short comings, but everyone has them. I know that reading would certainly have helped a great deal with these short comings, but even at this disadvantage, can I still make it?

The odds are stacked against me. I realize that.