Inspiration’s a funny thing.
People are forever asking, “Where do you get your ideas/inspiration from?”
I have no problem with them asking the question, but here’s the thing: this question quite often comes hot on the heels of a statement along the lines of, “I want to be a writer.”
I never say, “So what’s stopping you?” because that would be rude. The truth is, though, that no one is stopping anyone from writing. If you want to be a writer, you can be, all you need do is start writing. When people say they want to be a writer, what they usually mean is, “I want to earn a lot of money/stop going to work/become famous.”
It’s not the same thing, and, those three things probably aren’t going to happen.
I know some writers. Very few of them write full-time, because most need a job to pay the mortgage. Some are lucky enough to work part-time, but I also know some very hardworking writers, who are being published and praised, who still work 40 hour weeks in shops and offices. Very few of the writers who work full-time are in single-income families; almost all of them have spouses who also work.
On the other side of that coin, I also know Ian Rankin. Here’s the thing, though, when I first knew Ian he had published four novels in five years and was working full-time on the Hi-Fi magazine that I sold ad-space for. He was only thirty and he was doing well, but he was giving virtually all of his free time over to writing. We all know what happened next, of course, and I can’t think of a nicer man for it to happen to, but for every Ian Rankin there are thousands of wannabes.
Inspiration and ideas count for a very small percentage of what a writer does. The rest is long hours and hard graft.
If you still want to be a writer, do what writers do, tap into your inspiration, pursue your ideas, and then get down to work, because, like it not, succeed or fail, that’s what writing is: work.
I was reading James Swallow's introduction for the second Blood Angels omnibus and he wrote something that struck a nerve, but in a good way.ReplyDelete
He wrote, "Ask any author, and they'll tell you we all bleed a little for what we write. It's the passion that drives us, and it never stops being cool when someone with that same passion reads your work and feels the same rush we get from writing it. We write because we have to. It's what we are."
this is especially poignant for me, because I'd been fretting somewhat that I don't do enough writing. as in, I haven't finished a short story or novel, and would have to admit I'm not even close to. but on the other hand, this made me realise that it didn't mean I wasn't writing.
between all the work I've put and still put into the half a dozen odd RPG campaigns I work on, plus the brainstorming and research I've done on the first 4 short stories I want to write, plus my own ideas for settings for series' of novels (some couple thousand text files worth) ... I actually do a helluva lot of writing, and I really should take that into consideration.
that said, I'll be a whole lot happier when I can turn them into something that someone other than I can appreciate. unfortunately for now, to find them in their completed form, you'd have to look inside my mind ;)