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  • Kerry Chaput

On Being a Writer


I am now more convinced than ever that the difference between writing and being a writer is persistence. See, there is this magical thing that happens when an idea comes to you and taps your shoulder repeatedly, asking you to give it attention. And that magic continues when the words flow effortlessly like someone else is handing them to you graciously one by one.


That magic while amazing and wonderful and a high unlike any other place in life- is also fleeting. I am a 5 am writer. Probably always will be. There are mornings that the story practically pulls me out of sleep and asks me to hurry up and make my coffee because we've got things to put into the world. And then there are the other days; the ones where every sentence feels like trying on clothes that are a size too small. You question yourself and your story and you wonder why it has forsaken you.


I am reading "Big Magic" right now by Elizabeth Gilbert. She talks about story ideas as their own entity and if we ignore them, they just might move on to someone who will listen. I find myself thinking about my current work in progress, Beautiful Rebel. My protagonist, Isabelle Colette, has me mesmerized and I have been in love with her since the first sentence. I struggle to give Isabelle the attention she deserves. Between work, family, publishing my first novel, exercise, and well-life- I find myself asking her not to leave me. Sometimes I write for 3 hours and come up with about 3 paragraphs that might get erased the next day. That right there- that is being a writer. Obsessing over the stories that picked you out of the universe as its portal to the world, and constantly wanting to do them justice.


This story I am writing is major, and epic, and inspiring- and TRUE. I discovered this story when researching my husband's ancestry. Everything I read kept getting more impressive and amazing- how have I never heard of this before? Isabelle pushed at me for months and told me that I must tell her story. Now mind you, Isabelle is not real. She is a mixture of real women doing amazing things 400 hundred years ago, and I feel the pressure of these unbelievable women through the lens of the fictional Isabelle. I need to write this novel with attention and care. I want the readers to feel as inspired as I do.


So every day I keep Isabelle by my side, and sometimes she comes to speak with me- almost always while hiking- to tell me more of her evolution. And I wait patiently for when she does. I feel that we have a standing date on the hiking trails of Bend, where she meets me and walks with me as she reveals the details of life in the 17th century.


Sometimes it is painful and sometimes it is miraculous, but writing is with me for the duration of my days. Now that I have discovered it I can never let it go. I have already committed a lifetime to it and I can only hope to be chosen by more incredible ideas with characters that will let me tell their tales.



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