I’ve never had any doubt. Ever since I was little, as little as I can remember (which, admittedly, isn’t as far back as most), I’ve known what I wanted to do. I wanted to be paid to make up stories. It didn’t have to be novels either. I would have been happy to be hired as a conceptual writer for a role playing game company or help structure the plot of a video game or even write movie scripts or plays. However, what has come most naturally to me has been novels, such that I tend to only write them and nothing else.
But whence that certainty? How did I know that I was to be a writer and nothing else? There were a couple of clues. For one, I’ve always had incredibly complex and vivid dreams. Often I wake up with fleeting memories of alien towers, of impossible gardens, of complex plots wherein strangers lead me through unknown buildings and streets to accomplish tasks as random and purposeful as only dreams can furnish. I’ve sat before my computer screen countless times and wished, desperately wished that I could summon that latent creativity that fuels my dreams and display it on the page. Those dreams are a constant reminder to me of how much more there is to the world once imagination is brought into play, how the quotidian, while truly and deeply marvelous, can serve as the springboard for even wilder and more incredible experiences and visions.
Second, a part of me has always remained detached from events as they unfold in my life and watched them from afar, noting how I feel, watching how people act, how even in moments of extreme stress, grief and anger people behave. I’ve watched myself dance to lose myself, noting my own thoughts and movements. I’ve watched myself in the heat of the most wretched arguments, I’ve watched myself as I fall madly in love. Always a small corner of mind runs on, taking notes, documenting, storing and filing away for later use. This is how it feels to be terrified, this is how it feels to be shocked speechless, this is how it feels to be stupored by booze, to be punched. That voice, that narrative eye that mines my daily life for material is another clue that writing is what I’m for. It’s an automatic reflex, one I can’t switch off, and due to that awareness I have a warehouse filled with experiences to draw from when writing.
Third, I took a play writing course in college once. Seeing my pieces performed on stage by classmates was almost as intense an experience as sex. My heart began to pound as they spoke my lines, I felt nervous, elated, euphoric and light headed. As they acted out my story, as they brought it to life before me, my eyes watered with the intensity of the experience. I wanted to laugh out loud, as delighted as a magician’s apprentice upon casting his first spell. No work or job has ever evoked such a feeling as the pleasure I felt upon watching others act out what I had imagined, created. What else ever could?
Finally, I can lose myself in nothing else as I can in writing. Hours can literally slip by without my noticing as I write thousands upon thousands of pages, the world fading away, even the screen and the words I am typing becoming invisible as I see the scenes unfold in my mind’s eye, and rush to transcribe them onto the page. It is only when I am writing that my detached narrative voice falls silent, when I cease to become aware of myself, and am instead sublimated into the moment in a manner that I only experience when dreaming.
To write is experience dreaming while awake, to lose the self, to create from my stored experiences new worlds and people and live as intensely as I am able.
What makes me so certain I want to be a writer? Absolutely nothing else compares.