Alice is at it again…

Still reviewing some of the notes and replies from my post about Is it a story yet? and in my ever-curious pursuit of understanding the writer’s mind (*chuckle*), I have another question — this one somewhat more ambiguous than the last couple.

Essay Question: Do you consider writing an escape or a pursuit?

37 responses to “Alice is at it again…

  1. Yes.
    *g*
    And a vocation and an avocation too. It’s what I do, generally speaking, when I’m not doing something else.
    OCD much? Me?

  2. Yes? Since when was “yes” an essay answer? *grin* Inscrutable writers….

  3. Alright, then — I’ll rephrase.
    Do you consider writing an escape or a pursuit, and why (e.g. who/what/where/why/how are you escaping and/or who/what/where/why/how are you pursuing)?

    • Don’t know that I’m escaping from so much as escaping to–and what I’m pursuing is a story….
      Hmmm…
      Maybe the question isn’t right. It’s a Zen thing. Writing isn’t so much a thing I do as a way I relate to the world, process my experience, and communicate with other people.
      It’s how I get what’s inside me, out.

      • Okay… I think I have a glimmer of what you’re getting at. Maybe you’re right and my approach to the question isn’t as well-worded as it could be. It came up because someone made a comment to me delineating their “real life” from their “writing life”, and it snagged my attention.

        • I think that might be what refers to “Tom Lite”–going to work with a persona.
          I don’t talk about writing much to people who don’t write or aren’t in the industry (or a similar one–my boss was a country music road manager for some time: he gets it), because it requires so much explanation. So I have a ‘real life’ and a ‘writing life’ in that regard.
          It’s like talking about RPGs with gamers vs. non-gamers.

    • Persuit.
      What I’m pursuing… I think I’m pursuing the story itself. I’m always chasing it, trying to get it down on paper perfectly. the way i see it in my head. It’s like trying to catch water in your hands, though.
      I liked the way Stephen King put it in his book – that stories are fossils and writers try to get the fossils out of the ground intact, but mostly they can’t. The better writer, the more of the fossil they can get. but it’s rare to get the whole thing.
      I am pursuing the feeling I have when I get a flash of inspiration. It’s an elation and an adrenaline rush and something else I have no words for. but I want that thing i have no words for on paper, thus it’s very hard.
      It’s not an escape because escape, for me, is the opposite of what I want to do when writing. When I write I am turned fully toward the world. In fact, that’s the only time I face reality – when writing. If I turn away and start escaping I’m missing things. When I escape I turn inward. And maybe inside I’ll find the ideas that want to be written, btu I can’t write them until i draw them out and get them grounded in the world. Even if they’re fantasy.

  4. leapfrogging in from ‘s LJ…
    Considering I am congenitally unsuited for any other profession? It’s a pursuit.
    Considering story is my refuge from the world, my place to go when I can’t make that world make sense but dammit, MY world makes sense, it’s an escape. But then the story takes over and bursts out at the seams and leads me back out into the world I’ve run screaming from, that leads right back into the pursuit aspect of the thing.
    And so it goes…
    Also, I hope you don’t mind my friending you; given my inability to find a writers’ group of sufficient talent and passion in real life, I’m trying to find folks online who think and talk about writing on a professional level. Anything to help me get my mind into the mode of “this is a profession” and thus over the hump to translate the short story, the few poems and articles I’ve published into finishing my novel and getting more of my stuff out there. So here I am, barging in to the party and lurking in the corner, hoping the bouncers don’t notice me…

    • Of course you’re welcome to friend me. Feel free to read and/or contribute as you like. We don’t really have bouncers, per se (it would take all the fun away from me ). Anyway, I’m sorry to hear that you can’t find a sufficiently supportive writers group – I know that can be very difficult. If you write spec fic, have you tried that OWW thing that is in? I’ve heard good things about it.

      • Darn, so I can’t apply to BE a bouncer at some later date? 😉
        I’m beginning to think it’s easier to orchestrate world peace than to find the appropriate writers’ group.
        But thank you so very much, I appreciate the welcome and the invite to hang about. I shall look forward to doing so…

    • The OWW thing is good. I hear the Critters thing is good too (and free, unlike the OWW, which is merely cheap-for-what-you-get).
      Also, I know an AIM chatroom where a lot of fairly serious writers hang out–email me for details if you like.

      • Done, except I forgot to ask about the AIM chat room in the e-mail. Overload of chocolate and mommy duties this morning. But I’m interested in all of it. *Thank* you!

  5. Ok, I’ll give this a try.
    I write because I want to know what happens next. I have general ideas, sure, but the devil is in the details and that’s what I’m after. That’s my pursuit. I want to know what happens next, and I want to be able to tell other people what happens next. That’s the base level of it for me.
    On other levels: I write because I want to see what can be done, or more specifically, what *I* can do. I want to see what happens when I write Beauty and the Beast; I want to see if I can achieve the elegance of language that makes it hard for me to breathe when I read Guy Gavriel Kay. I want to explore what makes my characters, and, at least in theory, thereby people, tick. I want to make someone laugh; I want to make someone cry. I want to make someone say, “*Yeah*!” because she’s been in that moment that she’s just read–maybe not that *actual* moment, but I want to evoke a memory of passion, or create one. I want to suddenly catch my reader realizing that he’s reading a jazz piece, like happened to me when I read (I believe it was) “Sonny’s Blues”, by James Baldwin. I want to make my reader notice he’s leaning forward in his seat and holding his breath to get through to the end of the scene, because the action has got him in its grip. I pursue feeling, when I write.
    I write because I want to be better at writing. There are standards to which I aspire. To make people think; to make them react, to make them angry or happy; to make them want to ban what I have to say, or to laud it. I want to tell stories that have some kind of basic truth to them. I don’t, perhaps, need to change the world with a single book, but I would like, when I’m dead, to have a body of work that someone can look back on and say, “These are the things she wrote about; these are the things that made her feel so strongly that she had to make stories of them to share with the world. These are the ideas that were her passion,” and maybe have something learned from them. Maybe have a faith in love, or redemption, or truth, or anguish, restored. These are my pursuits, in writing.
    This is me, totally losing my train of thought because my editor called to ask me why I chose the name I chose to write under. Erm. Where was I?
    Oh yes.
    My *escape*, in writing, is that–God. I love it. I just love it. I love telling stories. I love going into these worlds inside my mind and finding out what happens next. It *is* another world; I see why people say “real life” and “writing life” as if they’re different, because… writers are a little weird, you know? I keep telling my mom that it’s not *exactly* that I have voices in my head, but there’s no better way to describe it. (And she assures me that she has no voices in her head, whether they’re described that way or not, at all, and gives me funny looks.) It’s not that I go in to writing *because* it’s an escape, but it unquestionably *is* one. The world that goes on outside of my head ceases to be the one with which I am involved for the period of time that I’m writing, and…
    Okay, Mom’s right, that’s weird. Maybe it’s better not to think about this stuff too deeply. 🙂 But, hm. I think that overall my answer is that I consider writing a pursuit, and that it’s an escape is for me an inevitable (and awesome) side effect.

  6. My instinctive reaction was “yes” too. *smile*
    I escape into the worlds I write. I purge things from my head by infusing them into fiction and twisting them to new purpose. I lace imagination with reality and thus escape to someplace new.
    But I pursue the story, although never with enough strength anymore it seems. I chase after my characters to find out what they are doing. And I pursue the ultimate goal of having a way of sharing what I write with others.

  7. Add me to the ‘yes’ camp, despite the fact that you’ve modified the question. 🙂
    Writing has always been an escape. Primarily, I think, from the lonely world of adults. No, no, no sob story. I was just an only child/army brat with divorced parents who didn’t keep whole cadres of friends around to entertain me because there wasn’t time. So, I made them up! I could always take the stories I made up with me.
    (No invisible friends. Stories were enough.)
    But writing is also a pursuit. I am pursuing a career, short and sweet. I am pursuing the perfect venue for getting *my* stories, told in *my* way and *my* voice into the world. Obviously, I think they’re good enough to be heard, or I wouldn’t keep trying.
    I think, a little bit, I’m also pursuing the world as I would want it to be. Where things work out and there are ‘happy’ endings because There Just Should Be Sometimes Comma Dammit.
    🙂

  8. Heh.
    And hooked in by matociquala…
    Writing is an escape for me.
    When it seems like nothing’s going right, and I’ll never be any good at anything and the kid’s sick again and the husband’s out at the lab and I can’t sleep and all the words I used to get out by roleplaying are yammering in my head– I use the writing to escape from it.
    All of it.
    Occasionally, I blink and wonder ‘did that really come out of me?’. “Indra’s Rice”, for example. I still have no idea where -either- of the two stories that are intertwined in that one came from.
    Because for me, it’s all about getting away from the disappointments, frustrations– and yes, heartbreaks of the day at hand. I don’t write much when I’m happiest. I write a ton when I’m unhappy, both in my blog and as stories. (And in fact, I can tell when my Zoloft level is sub-theraputic, because I get more wordcount then than at any other time…)
    I write so that the words can find a way *out*, because when they don’t I get progressively more tangled and unhappy until the only recourse is to get to a keyboard and *write something*. Anything. Roleplay poses. Description. Emails to friends. Doesn’t -matter-.
    And if it provides someone else enjoyment and escape too, all the better.
    I don’t view writing as my pursuit. My primary goal has never been to become a self-supporting writer; it’s something I do because I have to get the words out and I have to get away. I have a primary profession, and I do love what I do, and there are those perfect days when I can’t imagine doing anything else–
    –but the fact is, I *choose* to pursue medicine as a career. I can make a conscious choice to quit. That’s not something I can do with writing; as soon, I might choose to stop breathing voluntarily.
    Just my 0.02.

  9. I suppose I have to call it a pursuit. Though I’m not entirely satisfied with that.
    But I can’t say escape, either. When I’m writing fiction, a lot of the time I’m confronting stuff. Taking out conflicts that I feel are unsolvable, and trying out variations on a solution to see if there’s a way to escape the loop of If…Then…But…Argh! and though i dress them up in fantastic situations, at the root of it what I end up writing about is intensely personal.
    All right, pursuit. Because I do strive to write a short story that will shine enough to break into the incredibly competitive Spec Fic short fiction market. But I’m pursuing more because under all the whiz bang is something that’s bothering me, and in getting enough distance to tell it as a story that might be enjoyable to others, I’m trying to figure out the answer myself.

  10. following the white Miskit…
    I write in my head, even when there is no paper or computer. Even when no one will ever know how words have gathered themselves together at my command. Yeah, it’s a pursuit. I’ve sequestered myself in an office, with character charts and books on writing. I’ve taken formal university writing courses. I’ve sucked up to writers I’d never read, just to learn their genre.
    In the end, I still look like Gertrude Stein.

  11. Writing is too much work to be an escape from anything. Art is my escape. Reading is my escape. Writing? Washing dishes is an escape compared to writing! At least then, my brain is free to roam where it pleases no matter what the rest of me is doing. Things that don’t involve my brain too much are fun. The board game Diplomacy is Not Fun. Bridge is Not Fun. And yet… I do these things. Why is that? Am I a masochist at heart? The world may never know.
    I wouldn’t call writing a pursuit for me, either. Writing’s somewhere in the middle, a kind of fuzzy gray area of will-I, won’t-I, it’s fun today but it’ll be torture tomorrow. Maybe I like it better when it’s hard- it makes me feel like I must be accomplishing something. It probably ties back into the whole deadline addiction problem.

    • You can put me down in the “neither” camp. For me, now, writing is just a way of life. Even when I’m not writing (in the sense of adding more words to the WIP), I’m “writing” in that my mind is quietly mulling over some aspect of a story, often subconsciously. Also, the story fabricating part of the mind will pop up potential story ideas at the drop of a hat. Some of which I squirrel away for possible use later.
      Writing has never been an escape for me. I know that because if I’m going through a bad patch I don’t/can’t write. Reading is an escape, watching TV or reading Usenet/other computer stuff is an escape, but not writing.
      Neither is it really a pursuit. What am I pursuing? I don’t feel I’m pursuing a quarry. The reason I write is that I have a desire to communicate; I want to take other people to the cool places and scenes I’ve imagined and meet the cool people that inhabit my brain. (Well, I think they’re cool, anyway.) Writing is the only way I know to do that.

  12. (Friend of eBear checking in again)
    Creative/imaginative pursuits are essential to me, like breathing, sleeping, and eating real food. I sew, I bake, I’m pursuing a Ph.D., I play role-playing games – and I write. Spectator pursuits (other than reading!) are not my thing. I need to be active.
    When it comes right down to it, I need to *write* a lot more than I need to be *published*; yet publication is (usually) an indicator of excellence, and I do want my various creations to be really good.
    So my answer has to be “yes.” Because the source of this creative urge is a fervent desire to avoid non-existence – oblivion – the invisibility to my so-called peers that plagued me as an adolescent. I create, therefore I am.

  13. huntin’
    Pursuit, I think. Of: attention; lives not lived; preservation of memories; making someone laugh or swoon; the satisfaction of crafting something clever, elegant, and/or moving. . .
    . . .not necessarily in that order, and not necessarily all at once. 🙂

  14. Slipped in through the badly-concealed connecting door between here and ‘s lair.
    Writing: Pursuit or Escape? (Tiredness may make for lack of eloquence and all semblance of sense)
    ::You could, of course, stop staring at that title and actually answer the question::
    There! That’s why I write. Vocal characters that demand it of me.
    Ok, facetious moment over. Although there’s a great deal of truth in that.
    I write because I don’t know how *not* to. I have ideas hitting me most of the time, and characters with minds of their own. If I get writer’s block, I almost go insane because the ideas don’t stop, and the scenes don’t stop – I just can’t get them out of my head and onto the page.
    I write because I love to. I write because I love the characters and I adore discovering what they’ll do with the situations they find themselves in. They write themselves much of the time, leading to interesting discoveries such as main character’s grandfather’s political leanings.
    I write because I’ve told stories all my life, and I want to continue telling them, but to a wider audience. I want to introduce people to characters who are, in some respects, more important to me than my family. (Yes, I know that’s sad).
    I never stop thinking of writing and the pieces I’m working on now, or will be working on. I have at least three tracks of my mind dedicated to writing at all times, which is probably very weird and occasionally results in fits of the giggles at inopportune moments.
    To attempt to answer the question–::threatens character with being written into Dawson’s Creek until he goes away::–I think I pursue rather than escape, since my characters are too real to me. Perhaps I pursue perfection in words – I’ll never attain it, but that doesn’t stop me trying.
    Or maybe the pursuit is to try to render into words what I see and feel in a scene. To allow others to share my perspectives on the world.
    If this makes no sense, I warned you.

    • I write because I don’t know how *not* to.
      Yah. What sed. That. Like right now I have a vampire blues singer and a bunch of ’60’s spies in my head, demanding I write a book.
      It’s mad. Mad, I tell you!
      Because writers is nuts. But in a good way, often.

  15. At one point in life writing was an not so much an escape or a pursuit but rather a compulsion. I remember in college, staying up until 3 or 4 in the morning because an idea had taken possession of me and would not let me go. I usually missed my morning classes.
    Then in the jobs I got right after college, ideas would grip me while at work, and I created secret little subdirectories, back when no one knew how to use computers enough to find them, so I could write my ideas.For years writing was the thing I used to procrastinate other things… college essays, work, etc.
    I guess escape is closer than pursuit, although I wasn’t so much trying to escape as I was being kidnapped by the words. No runaway here. But I did go willingly.
    Then I decided I was going to “pursue” writing. Big mistake. Now, for years, writing is something that gets procrastinated by other things. Washing the dishes. Updating Quicken. And when I am not writing I feel incomplete. Some of the emotion, some of the passion of living is missing.
    I can feel the ideas on the other side of something, a membrane I push at, trying to break through to be born into myself again.
    Reading questions like this lets me see the other side of the membrane more clearly. I keep thinking the clue to breaking through is seing it clearly enough to know where I am going.
    So now I am going to open up a story and see what happens. Will the words come? Will I catch one of the ideas that is hovering, teasing me like a sentient balloon?
    Thanks for the question!

  16. I have a very hard time escaping through my writing, because often the things actually in it are worse than my daily life. My daily life is with people who love me, and as much as we writers like to angst about the pain and suffering of creation, what my characters go through is much, much worse. Nobody is trying to subvert *my* creative work for their own political ends. Nobody is displacing my entire set of friends and family from their home en masse. Nobody is distorting my view of reality enough that running out alone into the middle of a Saami winter seems like a better option. I have it easy in my own life.
    I don’t see it as a pursuit, either; it’s more like I’m in a three-legged race with a better runner than myself. It pulls me ahead, but I’m kind of structurally attached….

  17. I don’t know. Partly an escape, but I don’t write more when things are bad in the real world than when they’re good, and certainly my real life is a lot better in many ways than my characters’ lives. (Though their lives are certainly more interesting.) And there must be easier ways to escape.
    If it’s a pursuit, I don’t know of what. Story, I suppose. I started writing simply to fix the plot in a coherent form. I wasn’t aiming to share it with anyone (though now I want to be published) and I have no message in mind to get across.
    (Jumping in from matociquala’s LJ.)

  18. Answer: Yes. ::grin::
    Writing is an escape from the times when the world refuses to show me any magic – at that point (being a writer of urban fantasy), I sit down and put some magic into mundanity.
    And it is a pursuit of fun, magic, something that other people might like, and…and…fun, dammit. Having a dragon run a New Age shop or a bunch of witches hang out in my favourite nightclub is just fun. I love being able to take the world I live in and tweak it like that.

  19. The Pursuit of Writing
    I started writing in the pursuit of an escape, now I hope to never escape the pursuit of writing.

  20. If I don’t write, I start talking to myself. Out loud. First in the car and out walking (though now I have a dog to disguise that). Then at home. (“What?” asks spouse. ::brief pause while I mentally rewind to consider what to tell him:: Spouse: “Are you talking to yourself again?”) Then in stores.
    And it wouldn’t be so bad if I talked to myself about interesting things–well, no, that isn’t right. But I go from talking about what’s happening (stupid driving tricks, foot almost slipped on wet spot) to making things up.
    That idiot who tailgated me actually ran into me deliberately and it turns out the guy in front of me was in cahoots with him, and the car is totally smashed, and the dog who was in the back seat miraculously escaped unharmed but I have my first broken bones and am (miraculously, grin) keeping them from stealing my purse even as I lie twisted between the steering wheel and the shifter in agony.. . .
    The neighbors called the police and a passerby stops and calls my spouse, so when the emergency vehicles arrive I can go off to the hospital after begging them all to find my poor lost dog. He meanwhile has been shut into the backyard of a person who thinks he’s beautiful and wants to keep him, so that that evening when I come home undamaged (ahem, reality? what?) spouse and I can go searching in the neighborhood and . . .wait, this getting long.
    Though you might like the part where I discover the folks who hit my car were in the dog-stealing plot and the mere sight of me and my dog creates a karmic-style revenge. Or not. 😀
    I make up terrible scenarios where people I love (and myself) are hurt and killed and resuscitated where useful; I have dreams—-oh, man, I don’t even want to go there. It’s like a spring. It will seep out, or gush out, or geyser out! Or like a splinter in the flesh, and if left too long who knows terrible previously unheard-of diseases will develop. Well, mostly like a spring.
    Sometimes I resent it. Sometimes I wonder what ‘normal’ people are like. Sometimes I wonder whether I would have been ‘normal’ if Mom hadn’t taught me to read so young, if I hadn’t taken to it—well, there’s the rub. Like being born a cat-lover among dog people.
    I don’t see it as a vocation. Or an entertainment. It’s part of life, like being blind or deaf or having an ear for music. Or having to eat and drink and sleep. You can be anorexic or bulimic or have sleeping disorders—or you can write, and stay sane, and not get weird looks in the grocery store.

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