People frequently ask me why I started writing. It’s hard to describe to people who don’t have the itch to be creative what that’s like.
There are moments in my day, every day, when I am sitting there, thinking about, oh, you know, nothing important, and all of a sudden, my brain has taken a completely random, entirely mundane thought, and spun it into a five paragraph synopsis of a story, complete with three basic character ideas.
And sometimes, these thoughts come from something as simple as, say, me doing dishes, and looking at the dirty cutting board.
Some of the ideas, after my brain has had them, REQUIRE me to write about them. It’s the same feeling as when a particularly clean person realizes that a part of their residence is dirty. “You know, I think I left the stovetop dirty. I’m just going to go wipe it down with a bleach wipe.” Or when a firearms enthusiast gets home and knows that they have to clean their weapons before doing anything else.
It simply needs to get done, or your brain won’t let you move on.
Writing for me is like that. The longer I leave an idea inside my head to percolate, the more detailed it becomes. Characters start to take on not only basic personalities, but names, histories, patterns of speech, merits and flaws, and then… they start talking. Realizing fully that I am not medicated for schizophrenia there are moments when I am thinking about a character that entire lines of their dialogue will pop into my head.
Fans of my Adrian’s Undead Diary series would be amused to hear that some of the best conversations between Adrian and Gilbert happened in whole, in my head long before I put them to paper. And Abby? Abby’s teen ‘tude was bouncing around in my noggin long before she was even committed to paper as a character I might want to even write about.
So when I say that writing is something that I MUST do, understand that if I don’t write these lines of dialogue, and give them an escape route from my head, the little bastards stay in there, and make it awfully hard to focus. I’ll be at work, and an entire encounter will pop into my head, while I’m trying to do paperwork, or god forbid, have a meeting with my boss.
“So Chris, how’s that super important project I asked you to handle last week going?”
“And f*** you Howard! You should’ve had my back at the family reunion! You always stood up for mom even though she was an abusive drunk!”
“F*** me? Have you forgotten that I pulled you from the kitchen time and time again as she tried to throw measuring cups at you? Don’t even tell me about not having your back!”
“Chris, I’m going to fire you.”
“Oh hey, sorry, I was just thinking about something I had to do later….”
Awkward to say the least.
So I write.
I started writing because I realized that if I didn’t give my ideas a way to get out, I would suffocate under the weight of my own creativity. At first, I played role playing games, and that was a way for me to be creative, but when the games stopped…
I still needed to write.
So I urge you, one and all, to find an outlet for your creativity. Live your passions. If you like knitting, knit like a frigging boss. If you enjoy working in amateur theater, do it with pride. If you’re more of a fly fishing person, stand in that damn stream, and cast that frigging line like you own the wilderness.
As for me… I’ll keep giving my ideas the permission to roam the free world, and I’ll let my writing be the keys to the car.
Chris Philbrook is the author of Adrian’s Undead Diary, The Wrath of the Orphans, and Tesser: A Dragon Among Us