My name is Wade.
You’d know that if you looked at my Twitter profile*. It’s not a common name and I find it strange when I encounter anyone else with it. Even if they’re just a character in a movie.
I’ve been a writer for a long time – practically ever since I could scratch letters on a page. The trouble was that no-one I grew up with had absolutely any idea how to encourage me to write, so I got encouraged to read instead. Reading, they understood. So for a long time I was a writer-in-waiting.
The urge to write surfaced several times over the years, but again, I never knew what to do with it and never received the right encouragement. My analytical bent got consumed by technology and I became a programmer. That’s a kind of writing. But that wasn’t the kind of writing I didn’t know I was trying to do.
Until NaNoWriMo. I didn’t actually do it the first year I signed up, but a couple of years later, I acquired a small laptop PC and got myself to some write-ins. That’s where you sit in a quiet room with a bunch of strangers almost all of which were also focussed on laptops, busy writing.
I never reached fifty thousand words. That novel has thiry-five or something. There was almost no planning, and precious little guidance. So I wrote “by the seat of my pants”. Those involved in NaNoWriMo at least a few times know that as “pantsing”. I did some wonderful on-the-fly world-building and I think the characterisation is strong. I know I learnt some lessons in scene-building. It feels like I’m either at the First Plot Point or the Turnaround but without planning, I’m stuck. I’d like to go back to it one day.
Turns out I need a goal to write something. A narrative to get from A to B. A story to tell. It annoys me after a while if I have to write undirected. If I have a goal, and the piece is short (like a blog post), I can plan it in my head. Then write it essentially one draft with some light editing as I go. Fiction of more than a thousand words or so needs planning, but I still edit as I go. Technology has made that easy.
That’s when I realized I am a story-teller, but an untrained one. Writer is sometimes a term that is a little too broad.
NaNoWriMo the second year was quite different. I made a lot of new friends – way more than the first year, and several other life crises finished playing out. The encouragement that time was a lot better and the shared experiences with writing and enjoying good writing has also opened up a lot of new opportunities. Such as Twitter. And I’ve since met other writers and people in the Australian speculative fiction writing scene.
It turns out that there are certain types of stories I want to tell. I’ve learnt a lot about myself, as well. I’m more honest with myself and I am more genuine with others. I have a better idea what questions I am asking the world and more open to the answers. Story-telling has been, for me, a type of deep, subtle and very special therapy.
Writing is more than just putting words one after the other; there is a type of living associated with writing and the story-telling it requires. In this mad modern age, the way writers get together and tell stories has changed radically. But all the same, it hasn’t really changed a great deal either.
A lot of things need story-telling. Us humans are hard-wired to look for a narrative in everything, whether we realise it or not. We’re always looking a “this then that” sequence. Many people don’t grasp what this means.
I call myself a writer, at least sometimes. Present tense. Most people understand that, or think they do. That’s usually good enough. It’s not all I do, but looking at how us humans tick and telling stories about it is why I blog here.
* Tweeting at me is also the best way to get in contact with me. (Off-topic comments to any post will probably be marked as spam.)