What motivates a person to write?
Many people get caught up in the fantasy of “getting published” or they traipse from writer’s conference to writer’s conference, “being a writer”, their main goal to win a coveted fiction award. Then there are the ones who never write all year, go to a conference and spend the whole week or weekend in a semi-sleepless frenzy, writing first chapters, openings and short stories. You see the same ones reading the same short stories year after year, taking their strokes. After work shopping the same story twenty or thirty times, they have a highly polished gem that they continue to read so they can get an award and more attention. What the hell are these people doing the rest of the year?
Granted, there are people who write simply for the joy of it without an eye to serious publication; journal writers, poets, short story writers and such. There is nothing wrong with this. Because they do not spend as much time at their craft as serious novelists, they do not get as deep into the craft as novelists, who by the very immensity of their undertaking, devote considerable time and energy to their writing.
If a person thinks they have talent for writing, they should by all means pursue it, but if they want to be a novelist, they had better bring the full force of their energies to it, because it is not for the faint of heart. Aside from the shark-infested, treacherous waters of trying to get an agent and trying to get published, producing new material is hard work and real writers know it. They’ll recognize kindred spirits at conferences and will gravitate toward them. It’s a shame for the others, because the pseudo-writers miss out on the real joy of writing.
The creative moment where their visionary experience comes into being in this world.
Unfortunately, the pseudo-writers never get past the “pomp and circumstance” of being writers. If they could only overcome the barriers that keep them from putting “ass in chair”, and in the year that comes between each conference, work their damnedest to produce another novel and/or a batch of short stories. If they could only produce new material.
The no-man’s land, the nether world, that terrifying void between the opening of your story and the ending. This is the place where the magic happens. You’ve managed a start and you have an idea of where you want to go, but you have no idea how you’re going to get there, so you sit staring at the blank page or screen, waiting for your subconscious to regurgitate something meaty. If you’re a real writer, you’ve learned to feed, train, and trust your mind, and when it delivers you understand that what springs forth is part of the emptying out process, putting forth bits and pieces of all the things you fed your subconscious in the initial research part of the whole process.
When you get to the end of the project you will feel empty. More on that later.
Among other things, the major difference between a professional and a dilettante is that the amateur waits around for the wings of inspiration to raise them up to that magical place of creation, while the professional disciplines him or herself and sits down pretty much every day to produce the written word. Some days it comes easy and others it comes hard. Some days it feels like you are creating a masterpiece and others it feels like you’re spewing worthless garbage.
In the end, when it’s all said and done and the editing has been liberally applied, it is for the most part, consistent, (except for those flashes of brilliance that shine through). The real joy for the true writer is in that emptiness where your whole being is called upon to produce. How often have you been caught up in a scene, only to look up and notice that two hours have suddenly past, and lo and behold, you have three pages of first draft.
Aside from the discipline sitting down to write every day gives you, you have your storyline uppermost in your mind every day. The story threads are fresh every day, making it easier to pick up where you left off and begin the magic again. The constant attention your story gets, gives it a wonderful continuity that stopping and starting disrupts. The end result is writing that has greater consistency.
There is a certain abandon that comes with the commitment that drops you down into an empty page. Jumping into that white space is the same as jumping off a cliff, into the emptiness, not knowing where you are going to land, but having the faith that your whole mind, conscious and subconscious will focus their mental energies toward creating something from nothing.
Creating a reality. Yours.
Matthew J Pallamary
From Phantastic Fiction — A Shamanic Approach to Story
© 2015 Matthew J. Pallamary