iUniverse’s Douglas Gardham, author of The Actor and The Drive In, kindly shares with us an insight into his authorial mentality.
Writing is something I can’t not do. I control my fingers on the keyboard and what comes out on the screen. I control the movements of my pen on what comes out on the paper. I control what I write down. I do not control the thoughts that come into my head or my need to write them down.
In writing, I control what stays and what doesn’t. I am the great adder and subtractor. I control when I start and stop and when I’m finished. But the when and why of what comes into my mind—nada.
Writing is like a muscle that requires daily exercise. It atrophies quickly though I’ve rarely missed a day in twenty years. Like a muscle it needs to be stretched and pushed to grow. And much like a sport, I need to practice it over and over and over…
Sometimes I feel like I’m chasing something, trying to keep up with what’s coming out. My fear—I won’t catch up. I won’t get there—wherever there is—and what I need to write down will escape. Other times I feel like I’m drawing from a deep well, impossibly deep in the abyss of my imagination. So deep that I find places of divine beauty and profane horror, of grace and disgust, of joy and sorrow, of happiness and sadness that pours out on the page before me.
It must come out. I must take it out. Whether I chase it or pull it. It’s there for me to take. Sometimes the words fall into sentences and sentences into story. Sometimes they don’t. I keep learning. Whether I’m out of breath or out of strength matters little. The story wants to be told, needs to be told and wants me to tell it.
Whether I’m wide-awake or barely conscious. The words come. The sentences form. Sometimes they’re together. Sometimes they’re in pieces. Oh, the dream to write a sentence without feeling it needs to change. But still they come for the story—the all-important story.
It’s always about the story. The story that combines the inside with the outside and the stuff that’s in between. It speaks to who we are, our uniqueness and our humanity.
Writing is a gift, and at times, a confused curse. Being relentless to that taskmaster is what I do. It matters little whether it comes from within or outside. It’s not for me to discern.
As Robert Frost once said, “Writing a poem is discovering.” Writing is discovering and all that accompanies the discovery.
Writing is what I do. It’s what I’ve always done, not that I knew it. I know it now.