Friday, 4 February 2011

If you’re not interested, why the hell would anyone else be?

Sometimes, in both blogging and story-writing, the words almost write themselves (such as yesterday when I happened to finish Byzantium: The Decline and Fall). At other times, writing can be much harder.

I started writing today’s blog a few times and deleted what I’d written within a few lines. Brilliantly, this actually gave me something worth writing about.

In an older, unpublished, story I wrote there are two pieces that stand out for me for very different reasons. My eyes go fuzzy if I try editing on-screen, so I always print the pages, play with highlighters and then amend the chapters afterwards. Anyway, I was reading a section where some characters were travelling towards their home country and remember being a little surprised and displeased by just how bloody dull it was.

The piece was not meant to be thrilling, there was no sudden murder or exploding eyeballs or the protagonist being transmogrified into a cabbage. It was, however, meant to be interesting, with snippets of character building and fleshing out the secondary cast members. Instead it was disappointing, and the boredom I’d felt when writing it was clear.

The second piece was the introduction of a character (perhaps my favourite). I try to make most of my characters three-dimensional, but often have one or two exceptions for comic effect, or because it’s more interesting to have a raving lunatic than someone only slightly mad. This character was sly, arrogant, vicious and overtly sadistic. I loved writing the piece and I was surprised how enjoyable reading it back was. Not sure what it reveals of my psyche that murder, torture and cannibalism interest me more than deep and meaningful conversations (it could explain why I’m single…), but the difference was plain to see.

Passion is tremendously important in writing. After all, if you’re not interested, why the hell would anyone else be?

There are other essential ingredients, (cunning plots and deep characters for a start), but if you’re not motivated and you don’t enjoy it then instead of being a labour of love writing becomes a chore.

Getting published is damned hard (even sacrificing goats to Zeus won’t help), but the average author who tries his best and persists will always have a better chance than the hugely talented author who lacks drive and ambition and stops submitting to agents/publishers even though they’ve written a great story.


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