There’s something to be said for comfort writing.
(Psst. I’ll have you know that that first line, and these as well, I typed without looking at the keyboard.
Wait! That might be more impressive if I tell you something else first. Once upon a time, long long ago, I took a typing class in high school. The old fashioned kind of typing class, on electric typewriters. We were tested for speed on the first day of class and the last. The first day I managed a mighty seventeen words a minute. On the last, a somewhat less than stellar thirteen.
Yes, I was typing more slowly by the end of the class than I was at the beginning. We’ll ignore the fact that neither number held much promise for my future as a typist.
Anyway, when I started writing after my hiatus, I was a four finger typist and I watched the keyboard. Four years later, I don’t look. Only it’s a little like learning to ride a bicycle. If I remind myself that I’m not looking, I lose my balance and type something like absuhnc kenruhvj aseinincf kiawhid, which is very rarely what I’m trying to say.)
So, comfort writing. I still haven’t figured out this whole publication thing. I understand the “writing is communication” piece, and I’ve learned to be a brave writer and send things out, and I do my part to continue to grow. But the Infernal Editor still owns prime real estate in my brain, and the publishing part of writing can serve as a reminder of that fact. When things are going smoothly, I can ignore her. Other times, when I’m clever, I can type around her.
Sometimes, though, she just dances on my bones.
That’s where comfort writing comes in. Ninety-seven percent of her power comes from the threat that other people will see what I write. Take that piece away and she’s got no leverage.
This is what I do. I go back to the beginning, back when my writing was more or less a private fortress, with a moat, and crocodiles, and a dragon, just for good measure. I write because it makes me happier, and nicer, and gives me something to do with my fidgety fingers and even more fidgety mind. Lately I’ve written about what it means to be a Mender when to mend is to cause pain; about what the Undertakers do for a planet; about the sometimes nonexistent space between magic and science, and what happens when neither works for a dying girl; and about a man who falls in love with a grizzly when his plane crashes into the mountains. Next up, I think, is a girl stowaway who gambles with the god of the ocean to save her only friend.
It’s comfort writing. It’s mine. I don’t have to do anything with it unless I choose to, and I can change my mind at any time. It’s an exercise in writing what I love, rather than what I think I should write. It’s better than mashed potatoes.
And I’m doing it without looking at the keyboard.