I cannot even begin to count the number of authors I have met in person or in the blogosphere who describe writing as some sort of compulsion. They write because they have to. They write because the stories demand it. They write at the mercy of their characters. If this is you, please don't take offense, but I'm always a little concerned when I hear or read something like this from a writer.Read the whole thing. At times I have felt envious of authors who say that they merely take dictation from their characters, serving as obedient scribes to fully formed, fictional beings floating somewhere in the imagination's ether. That's never happened to me. I've always had to build characters and plots and settings piecemeal, painstakingly assembling each molecule of dust and trying to breathe life into it. Often, the entire process is a wash, and I find myself wishing I had a voice issuing commands to my mind's ear. But Nevets perceptively notes that in almost any other situation we would recognize an activity done under mental duress as an illness. And while some writers (such as perhaps James Ellroy) are truly under the sway of such impulses, most us aren't -- nor should we be. We needn't chain ourselves to the craft in which we delight, nor think such a state is desirable. In the end, it isn't our master.
It sounds an awful lot like an unhealthy relationship that for some reason we have just come to accept in our "writerly culture."
As an author, put those words into a character's mouth and see what you think.
"I love him because I have to."
"I love her because her beauty demands it."
"I am a mother at the mercy of her children."
I don't say this to belittle anyone, just to encourage you to think about why you do what you do. Do you write because you love it? Do you write because it's your job?
(Picture: CC 2006 by shoothead)