Welcome to this post! In it you will find all sorts of fascinating tidbits, because I want to fascinate and delight you, my beloved reader.
You might have been expecting a new chapter of Servant of the King, and your expectation is well-founded. It is indeed on Mondays that a new chapter is posted. In fact, a new chapter is also posted on Thursdays. Thus, you can expect a new chapter posted later tonight.
So to what, you are probably asking, do you owe this bonus post?
To the desire to discuss writing in my life right now. If you are a writer, like me, who desires to be a successful and publishing author, your experience might be very similar to mine. So let’s commiserate, shall we?
I’d like to pose some questions and have you answer them in the comments of this post. For my part, I’ll answer them here in this post.
Q1. Why do I desire to be a writer, work as a writer, or in other words, be a teller of stories? Not lies, because they contain truth; but stories.
A1. That’s a freaking good question. There is no doubt that if I didn’t have this burning desire in me, I would be a far more settled fellow.
In any case, I think my love of stories began with The Poky Little Puppy. I remember that was the book I loved best when I was six. I don’t remember anyone ever reading it to me; but I read it plenty. I also read The Little Engine that Could. Even at that young age, I had an inkling of the solid quality of the first book and the inherent problem with the second. To this day, The Little Engine that Could bugs me and The Poky Little Puppy makes me grin.
Did I digress? Yes, I think so.
I love stories. Fantasy series like The Forgotten Realms, particularly R.A. Salvatore’s and Ed Greenwood’s work, really got me excited. I loved what I read of Dragonlance. There was also Walter Farley’s The Black Stallion. I loved that book and devoured every book in the series. They changed my life in that I learned to love horses and I actually, I kid you not, learned to ride horses by reading them. The first time I got on a horse it felt like home.
I get a little emotional when I see how much my oldest boy loves that book. I see him identifying with Alec and… man… the power of story!
Stories have moved me for as long as I can remember. I love the worlds, the people, the magic, the action, the love stories, the fantastic elements. I think there was a stretch of nearly ten years in which I didn’t read these books; those were my dark ages.
So I love these stories to the point that I decided I wanted to tell them. I wanted to move people. I still do. I want to transport people into the life and world of characters and take them along on an exciting, breathless, emotional ride. I want to shock, hurt and change my readers. I love it.
Q2. Is there a spot of vanity in my motivation to be a successful writer?
A2. Why yes, funny you should ask. I have seen the vanity in myself and recognize the motivation it gives me. I want attention, I want validation, I even want some near-worship.
But when I feel like the goal of success and validation is driving my writing, I have seen that my writing becomes a chore, not a joy. So I push back when it comes a’calling and I immerse myself in story again.
I won’t deny I like to get a compliment now and again. One of my fondest dreams is to meet someone like Bob Salvatore or Stephen King and hear them tell me I’m a good writer. Actually, Dave Farland said that once, so that was mighty cool.
Q3. What about writing means the most to you?
A3. There are those moments when I’ve pushed through malaise, laziness, doubt and distraction and have gotten into the story. Those moments when I feel like I’ve been in my characters’ heads and hearts and have told a story that means something because it speaks of and to the soul.
Recently though, I’ve had a new experience that has meant even more to me as a writer, particularly regarding my journey into the craft. As I work on Servant of the King, I have found myself hitting some points that I was not expecting. I have found the character and the world he inhabits simply lead him into these moments that are beyond what I had planned. So when I’ve hit some of these moments where I really don’t know what happens next, I take a few minutes to write about the characters involved. I write about their motivations, their goals, their individual world, and their relationships. As I do that, man, it’s exhilarating! What happens next become clear because it is simply what that person would do in that situation.
And as I follow these threads, things grow more complicated and the world becomes richer and the people become more real.
So these moments where I feel like I’m really delving into the craft– they’re tops right now. They’re intrinsic validation.
Have you had any of these moments where you’ve felt yourself learning and mastering the craft?
Q4. Is writing a solitary activity?
A4. Yes. And no.
I do my best work when I am writing in a quiet place, with my headphones playing scene-appropriate music and also keeping any ambient noise away. I must be alone and completely undistracted when I want to really get work done.
Also, writing is solitary in that the people around me, and maybe other writers too, don’t truly understand what it means to try to craft an excellent story– especially a long one. It takes lots of time and work and is completely absorbing. It’s mentally and emotionally taxing. I sometimes want to share the emotions I go through when I write, and I do that, but it’s clear that those I talk to don’t get it really.
But writing is also not solitary at all. I mean, I’m writing for an audience after all. And I am surrounded by people who love and support me. (And it’s bloody about time I recognized that.) They want the best for me and many of them are actually reading my stuff!!! I apologize for the overuse of exclamation points.
And there is no doubt that a good writing group that is regularly attended is beyond value.
Q5. What about your faith? Does it play a part in your work?
A5. Very much, especially today. For a lot of years, I tried to segment my life. I kept things in their world and didn’t let things spill over. For example, I want to be successful as a writer– meaning I want to be publishing regularly and have people love my work, because I will be writing good stuff. But I never allowed my Father in Heaven into that dream.
I’ve changed that tune significantly. When I sit down to write, I actually watch the video I have embedded on the right of this blog first. Every time. Then I say a prayer. Every time.
My writing has been much improved of late. I know it’s because I am praying over my flocks and fields and that I have recognized that my dream is good– and my writing is a good work. God wants me to be happy. This is one of the major sources of happiness for me.
As a final note, my life is not on hold until I start reaching goals of success as a writer. Not even close. I have a phenomenal family (Oh don’t practice your alliteration on me…) and a good job. I love life. I love most every moment of life. I and my family are blessed. Writing is a part of life and I expect it to become a larger part of our life as I keep moving toward goals.
And that’s it for now. What about your thoughts, feelings and experience regarding these questions? I find that I stay firm in my goals and progress as I see better that I am not alone. Care to share?
Writing must be a passionate pursuit, or no writer would persist.
(How's that for alliteration?)
Oh, and THE BLACK STALLION rocks. (How could I leave that unsaid?)
Very interesting post Jared, full of useful tips and reasons to write. I would like to write one day myself, so I follow you on twitter to pick up tidbits. I've dipped my toes in the water with my blog about my experiences of moving to Panama from the UK.
I like how you put up chapters of your book so regularly – I think a lot of writing is learning to apply yourself without getting sidetracked (my problem!). I found this quote from Iris Murdoch which I find helpful: 'I am not neurotic about writing. I don't wait for inspiration; I just go ahead and work office hours, as it were.' Iris Murdoch, 1968.
Hi Linda! Thanks for stopping by and dropping a line. I really agree that writing needs to be a passionate pursuit. I think I can tell when I read something written by a writer who wasn't passionate about what he or she was doing.
And yes, the Black Stallion is an awesome book.
Hi Panamajane! So great to hear from you. I took a look at your blog and loved the stories and photos. I hope you keep coming back.