There are people who must write. That's not me. Or at least it wasn't me. I came to writing in a very convoluted, accidental way, the way I come to most things I end up loving. I came thousands of kilometers to find my husband, on a very circuitous route both physically and mentally. I came the same way to writing. I found it when I was looking for something else. It was a bit of sparkle under the leaves, below the mud. I could have passed it if I'd been looking for it, I wouldn't have thought to look there. I had to find it by accident.
Even the way I'm moving along my writing journey is meandering and unguided, a bit mad and untamed. I started writing about headaches and then a trip across the desert, then how to keep caged birds. Real life couldn't hold my words and they broke away and drifted through my brain and came out as a different reality, the one where I was in control. And then I wrote about murders. I wrote about tsunami survivors finding new love with their broken apart hearts. Later I drifted around and came back home to Botswana and found little girls hiding from school in dry river beds and murderous teachers killing their lovers in the desert. Lately, I step out of my life for months at a time and live a new life created by my wayward mind with each word put down on the page. I've travelled in my writing, even more than in my real life.
In my writing, I can be a white woman today and a tortured murdering husband tomorrow. A psychopathic son-killing mother the day after that. This afternoon I was a black lawyer trying to find a way to get the wife he'd thrown away back. I get to try on lives, real life doesn't allow for that, I only get to do that when I write.
Unlike real life where stories started by a conversation with a stranger on a bus never get a proper ending, I can start and finish a story in a single day and feel quietly complete. A single beautiful thing in real life flicks by in an instant and you hardly get a chance to accept its existence before it has joined your memories of the past, but in my writing I can stay stuck on a beautiful thing for as long as I like, I can stop time if I want to. Who can stop time in real life?
I could write a list of the pros and cons of writing, but it will tell me nothing. It will not lead me to a decision about anything. The depth of one pro may be so deep that thousands of shallow cons could get lost inside it. I am not a person who must write, I am a person who chose to write. I've fallen deeply in love with my accidental choice, I doubt I can easily walk away from that.