The global success of Jane Harper’s The Dry signals that great writing will always win out, but it also reminds us that for many readers the setting, the place is as much a character as the protagonist and others. While her “place” is out in rural Victoria in Australia, a far cry from the outback,…
It’s amazing what you can learn about yourself when you write creatively.
Sure, there is the normal stuff — like finding your passion, what drives you as a person, or even the various small pet peeves you have. What I’m talking about though is the really interesting things that no one really talks about anymore. Not the “why” of what you do, but rather the nuts and bolts, explaining exactly “how”.
For me, that’s where things get interesting. As a writer, or an artist, how do you come up with your creations? Are they inspired by a muse hidden somewhere in the clouds, playing a magical lute? Or is your inspiration a little more grimy, a little closer to home — such as a resilient sewer rat that you saw race towards the next grate on the sidewalk? And once you have your spark of inspiration, how do you go about actually creating the masterpiece? Is it torn violently from your mind in a torrent of activity, or is it more of a slow, plodding process?
I have discovered that often my inspiration is the reality around me, and the creation process is not a quick one. But there is also something that I recently discovered about my process — something that I think that some of my fellow writers and even publishers might be a little confused about. I dare say many would think I’m off my rocker, so to speak.
So here goes…
I don’t give a flying horse’s rear end about genre when I’m writing.
Question # 1: Let’s start with a fun question– Why do you write?
First and foremost, I write because I have something to say.
I went for many years without writing fiction, almost since leaving high school. A busy career in the military, a skew towards academics, then a family and kids all convinced me I either didn’t have time for creative writing or didn’t have the aptitude. Still, when I took parental leave following the birth of my second daughter, I realized something was missing in my life.
I’d had a story idea for a while but had never seemed to have time to explore it – classic excuse, right? With the gracious support of my wife, I decided to make an honest attempt at writing. At first, I thought the story would be a one-off, but a funny thing happened the more I wrote – I got more ideas. Almost as important, I discovered my voice.
Since then, writing has become an integral part of my routine. I feel better on days that I write and it helps me muddle through things in my life or the world in general. Maybe things will change over time, but for now, having found my voice I can’t wait to hear what it will say.
Today I speak to you, not as a writer or a fellow author, but as a reader or possibly, hopefully, a fan. I come to you, after reading your book, and I am frustrated, slightly angered, and more than a bit irritated.
You might think it’s because of some grammatical errors that I found. Or that you chose to use American English when I was expecting British English. Or perhaps you think that you misnamed a street in a far off city that I’ve never seen.
The truth is that all those things are completely minor and worthy of being overlooked compared to what you did. Thankfully you did not steal anyone’s ideas, nor did you plagiarize, but when it comes to telling a story what you did ranks up there with Lucy pulling the football away from Charlie Brown. Unlike Charlie Brown, however, I will not be returning for a second kick with you holding the ball.
Writing has always been a secret love of mine, although are relationship has always been a bit rocky. Academically speaking things such as literature, writing, or studying English has never been my strong point- by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, if you were to look at my high school transcripts, you would see that I spectacularly failed English class- that’s right I failed a class in my native tongue. I got a 29% one year. For those of you playing at home, that would be an E minus on just about any scale in the United States Public School system.
I am also not one of those writers in which the words just flow out of her like some. I envy those who can sit down and write for twelve to sixteen hours a day, the words tumbling over themselves to get onto the paper. Personally, if I write for more than four hours in a day on one project I give myself a pat on the back for a job well done. This is especially true if the day did not include the urge to pour a bottle of water over my laptop or feeding my notebook to a shredder.…