Of Writing
By Kristen Sheley
Written Friday, September 6, 2002

I love writing. When I say I love it, I don't mean I love it like I love chocolate, or strawberry pie, or the face of Michael J. Fox. I mean that I love it like the air that I breathe; it is a thing of necessity that I appreciate deeply. Not everyone has the skills to create sentences and paragraphs and stories like I do. I haven't taken it for granted, not really, but I find the idea baffling that people complain they can't write. It's as natural as walking to me, as natural as sleeping and just as necessary. When a day goes by and I can't work on my stories, I feel cranky and fidgety and in a general bad temper. But when I can write, oh then....

Writing takes me out of my body and the physical limitations of this world. It touches a part of my soul, a part of me, that nothing else can touch. It's a deeply intimate act for me, and paradoxically one that I share with complete strangers. I don't notice people around me when I write; my physical surroundings are completely forgotten, melt away like a dream when one awakens. Indeed, in this case, the dream is more vivid than the reality. With my fan fiction, I am simply there with Marty and Doc. They are like friends of mine -- imaginary friends, in their way, but friends nonetheless. Meg and Sam, in my PIT series, are almost like kids of mine. I have a deep affection for the both of them. Actually, I have an affection for all my characters, even the nasty and bad ones, because each represents some part of me or has some message to them. Even the villains -- maybe moreso the villains. They have ideas or do things or speak thinks that perhaps I want to myself. Sometimes I twist the ideas of Kristen Sheley a bit to make them fit the fictional character's mold, and better tell the story I want to tell.

There's something deeply satisfying and very primitive about writing. In it's most stripped down form, I am storytelling. Sharing with friends, family, and strangers tales from my life, ideas in my own head, and stories I've occupied myself with creating. It satisfies something within me. I can't say what, exactly. Just like I can't really describe this urge I have to share or write.

When I want to write, when the feeling is in me, it's this strange pressure on my lungs and in my chest. Like pent up energy that is twisting around and trying to escape. I can't do anything when that feeling comes over me. I can't concentrate enough to read or watch TV or listen to my friends babble on about things that seem so terribly dull or insignificant. All that matters are those people that don't exist, these people that won't exist, stories that won't exist, unless I am there to act as the transcriber and put them on paper.

I read an interesting idea about writing in a Christopher Pike book. Something about how stories are always there, it is simply the job of the writer to uncover and discover them. It's like they're forgotten toys or whatnot that are covered by layers of sand or dust. Archeologists. The analogy struck me and stuck with me, maybe because it seems like truth to me. In my writing, one thing leads to another in terms of the ideas. Stories build on a foundation and (should) follow a logical progression of events. Sometimes, I have to admit, although it sounds completely and totally insane, I think writers can tap into alternate realities with their minds. That the imagination is sort of a tuner, an awareness, of this. That all the stories we think of fiction out there really exist, somewhere, someway. And the writer is the person who translates all that stuff and transcribes it so that the masses of this world can know it.

Writing is the only thing that satisfies me, deep in my soul, so I can sleep well at night and feel happy. It's been my way of coping with grief as much as joy. It's been my escape, my ticket off the planet and out of the boring, average life I may lead. Nothing gets me more excited than feeling like I'm living some movie or book. Writing lets me do that, though in a more mental capacity than physical.

I thank God, when I think of it, that he gave me an imagination and an outlet for it. I was always a storyteller; just the medium changed. I used to "play pretend" or act out my stories and scenarios with friends in improv, or else act them out with toys as we played with our dolls or whatnot. I used to actually hate writing, hated spelling, hated the lousy grammar and punctuation rules that I felt were dumb. But then when I started putting the stories in my head on paper, everything changed. I started wanting to know the rules of the "game" so that people could read my writing. And I always wanted to be the best I can be with writing. My early writing sucked -- I still have all that stuff -- yet I got good marks on it because the ideas expressed and the stories told apparently touched and amused people. I just had to catch up with the whole expressing them thing.

Sometimes I worry that I live too much in a dreamworld. Sort of like that Abba song: "Dreamworld, you've been living in a dreamworld... trust me, you just can't escape from reality." But I can. I know that I am sort of spacy sometimes and there's a distant quality to me that people notice. Maybe that is why I'm a bit of a loner -- no one understands. No one can bridge that gap into myself to get to know the real me. Not the me that my friends and family see, but the real intimate me that no one is privy to. It's not that I won't let them in; it's that no one has cared enough to go down that deeply. Even someone who read every single word of everything I've written would only understand a smidgen of that person. It's funny, but when I'm "in the Zone," as I call it -- in that place where fiction is more real than reality, where I feel like a high from writing -- I have a glazed look to the eye, and people have thought I was sick or stoned. It's obvious that I Am Not In when that look comes over my face. Rather, I am elsewhere, and that elsewhere is usually far more entertaining or engaging that whatever dullness is surrounding my body.

I don't expect anyone to understand how I feel about writing. Words fail me when I try to talk about it and explain, as what happens when I have to talk about something I have such deep and complex feelings for. Very few people I've met know and are true writers through and through. The thing that completely cracks me up, with PIT getting published, my dream being realized, is how little the finances matter to me. I always thought they would, you know. But I really don't remember that I'll make money on each book sold. It seems such a secondary concern....

What matters is the story has been told, and people can read it and share in it. That is why I write -- to tell stories and to live them in the only possible way I can. If I didn't, I would simply die. Life wouldn't be worth living in my opinion if I couldn't write. I love it. It is my first love, and possibly my only love. Anyone I will ever date or marry will have to understand that in my life, there will always be this quiet presence of fictional characters that require a lot of my time. Maybe no one will. And maybe this is why I will and can be single for my days on Planet Earth.

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