I sat at a typewriter behind a closed bedroom door for a lot of my adolescence. I can’t even remember what I wrote—probably some poetry and fantasies—but I do remember why. I wanted to create a world that I controlled and that made me feel good. I became amazed and confused by the weird person coming to life on the written page. I worried what would my parents think. In reality, I was so ordinary and bland that I couldn’t stand my personality any more than I thought I could change it—but my imagination insisted that I try.
Forty years later, I still have the need to explore any and all things roaming through my heart, mind, and soul. Exploring gets me up in the morning. I’ve come to love my random ideas about character and plot. They don’t always come to fruition, although they sometimes reappear years later in a different guise with fresh impact. Where do ideas originally spring from? A dream or a memory, sometimes. Comments overheard at a funeral. Reading an expression on a stranger’s face. Novels become unique alloys of conscious and unconscious feelings. I think that’s true for a lot of writers.
I’ve rarely missed a day of writing (even if it’s just rewriting one or two sentences in a manuscript). I cling to habit and persistence like someone lost at sea with only a life preserver to hang onto. My imagination/Muse would never forgive me if I gave up on her. I wouldn’t forgive myself, either. I wake in the night sometimes and work on a particular story-telling challenge, unable to go back to sleep until I write down my thoughts. They may be gibberish in the morning but, hey, they got me through the night and into the next writing day . I’ve convinced myself a good explorer knows the inevitability and value in getting lost. Freaking out is when things really get interesting.
Michael R. French
Michael French is a graduate of Stanford University and Northwestern University. He is a businessman and author who divides his time between Santa Barbara, California, and Santa Fe, New Mexico.