Not long ago, I was fortunate enough to actually speak with Pat Conroy, the king of Southern literature. It was definitely a "pinch-me" moment, and it still seems like a dream, but I remember asking him one very important question: "What's it like to be Pat Conroy? What's it like to be an author?"
I think I was expecting him to tell me about adoring fan letters, or how he's changed people's lives through words, or how his life has been altered so much for the better since he found his muse. That's not at all what he told me.
"If you gotta do it, you gotta do it," he said. Huh? I wrote the words down to make sure I had it right.
Since then, I've edited my first novel, and I'm now mid-way through writing my next. I'm beginning to understand what he meant. First, YES, I do "gotta do it." It wasn't that way a few years ago, but since I've been bitten with this passion for writing...this...this THING, I have to do it now for my soul.
Writing is one of the biggest blessings of my life after my husband and children. And it calls to me just as often as they do. It tugs on my skirt, begging me. I write in my head when I'm showering or making dinner. I think of scenarios, word phrases, authentic feelings and behaviors my characters should have--at inappropriate or inopportune moments. For days, I've been stewing on an idea...pressing for it...pulling for it...searching. It's been on the tip of my brain, obsessing me. MADDENING! However, last night, the concept came to me in full glory. I took it, ran with it, and oh my goodness, I think it works. It's like experiencing pure MAGIC. And it's the magic after all that keeps me going--these tiny aha! moments when all the madness swirls away and I get to see perfectly for one...clear...flash.
"If you gotta do it, you gotta do it." These are words of wisdom. Pat Conroy speaks the truth.