A friend of mine and fellow writer, Shari, tweeted a link to a collection of quotes about writing the other day. Since I’m a quote addict, I immediately combed through the list and found a few that grabbed my attention. My favorite is a very brief one from Natalie Goldberg, an author who focuses on the connection between writing and Zen (I might have to read one of her writing guidebooks!):
“Writers live twice.”
This struck me immediately because I recently purchased a journal from Target with a similar quote on the cover: “We write to taste life twice.” The more I thought about these two quotes, though, the more I found myself thinking, “Only twice?” I don’t know about everyone else, but as a writer, I feel like I’m living (or have lived) at least eight or nine different lives. At different points, I’ve been:
-A young girl living in a trailer park
-A gay man in his late twenties running from his career as a beauty pageant consultant
-A brokenhearted girl who’s desperate to find someone who won’t abandon her
-A ninety year old war veteran who’s filing for divorce from his wife because of a seventy-year-old affair he’d never known about
-A girl obsessed with being as wild and free as her neighbor, a yoga-obsessed foster kid
-A girl in the foster care system who is desperate to be reunited with the mother who abandoned her without warning
-A grandmother who loves her family more than anything
-A girl navigating the crazy world of dating a theater boy
-An elementary schooler whose family constantly moves around
And most recently
-An overweight girl struggling to get healthy amidst an unsupportive family environment
I have to put myself in the shoes of each different character and figure out everything about them (what they like, what they hate, what makes them angry, why they are the way they are). Each one is a new adventure, a new life to live. When I finish a story, I feel so connected to the character, like they’re a part of me.
Writers live twice? Try a thousand times.