Why do I derive such pleasure from writing? It ties in with my special interest in words. It provides a means for me to communicate without speech. But it’s more than that – there’s the joy I get from the creative act of crafting a written work and the release I feel when I am able to express how I feel through this medium.
My first writing, naturally, was at school – “What I Did On Holiday” and the like. I was taught spelling and grammar from the outset and this has stood me in good stead – knowing the rules and conventions allows me to decide when to bend or break them for effect. But it’s not just my scholastic education that has influenced how I write – I’ve also picked up elements of style and structure from works that I’ve read over the years.
I’ve never had much trouble recounting events but imaginative writing has always been a problem – I find it impossible to invent characters and settings and have to fall back on stereotypes – so I avoid writing fiction when I have any choice in the matter. The last time I remember writing a fictional account I was at school – it was a diary entry from the perspective of Rev. Parris while we were studying The Crucible. I chose to concentrate on events from a segment of the play rather than attempting to ascribe feelings to the character, and found the most interesting aspect to be my attempt at recreating the language of the period – special interest strikes again!
I enjoy writing poetry in various forms – the range of constraints within the form offers an interesting challenge – but I worry that I’m not very good at it. It can be a challenging technique to become truly proficient in – I’ve always had difficulty maintaining the rhythm of the prosody because I have trouble determining the appropriate stress and intonation of words in speech. I have a somewhat monotonous tone and rhythm when I speak – I’ve got better at it over the years but it doesn’t come naturally. (My wife sometimes asks me to read to her at night to help her fall asleep.)
None of my essays are what I would describe as long – one English teacher wrote on a school report, “concise but errs on the side of brevity” and I had several similar comments across various subjects over the years. I believe it’s linked to my AS and my lack of small-talk in conversation. I have an innate inability to waffle – I consider this to be a positive trait because I find listening to such talk causes my attention to wander, and I just want to tell the speaker to get to the point!
So, how do I write? I get an idea in mind for a subject – often about myself or something that evokes strong feelings – and just start writing. Sometimes I’m inspired by an article I’ve read; sometimes it’s a way of dealing with my emotional state. Sometimes I drift off topic but I do try to maintain focus. Since I enjoy writing much more than editing, I worry about the end result being a bit rough around the edges – I never spend much time reviewing and polishing. I start at the beginning with no idea how it’s going to end, and keep writing until I’ve included pretty much everything I wanted to cover. I read it through, maybe tweak a couple of words here, a phrase there, and somehow it seems to turn out all right. I can’t really explain my writing process any better than this: I know what I want to convey and the words simply come out.
In some respects it does come easily to me – I can turn my thoughts into words with little effort. But only when writing. And this fluency is another reason I gain pleasure from it, when I contrast it with the hesitancy and mental blocking that afflicts my speech. I find the written word to be a more natural means of communication.