Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Successful Novelist - Lesson One

Why Do You Want To Be A Writer?
  • writing is difficult and requires a considerable commitment of time and energy
  • on every page, confidence fights with self-doubt
  • 2,500 writers earn a living in the US
  • average writer's salary is $6,500
  • writer's write, it's that simple
  • find what sets you apart, find out what your afraid of, find out what you need to tell
So why do I need to be a writer? Because I need to be. There's something inside of me always nagging to get out, a story that needs to be told.

In this chapter, Morrell discusses finding that story within you that needs to be told. It seems to be all related to stress. Using Hemingway as an example, he tapped into the post-traumatic disorder he suffered during World War II and how that fuels his writing. Morrell himself had a terrible childhood with a father killed in WWII and a mother who was forced to put him up for adoption because she couldn't take care of him. She reclaimed him eventually and married again, but Morrell never saw eye-to-eye with his step father. That experience and conflict can be seen in his novel, First Blood, and his protagonist, John Rambo.

Searching within my 40 years of experience, I'm struggling to find something equivalent that I can tap into. My childhood was amazing as were my generous and loving parents. In comparison, it seems to be too good to be true!

There was my mother's battle with depression when I was in high school and that lasted several years through her menopause. I vividly remember taking her to the sanatorium in Sudbury and being unwilling to leave her there with the rest of the disturbed individuals that were there.

There was the summer I came back from University and butted heads with his parents constantly.

There was the time I was dating a young woman and took a stand by moving in with her despite my parents disapproval.

There was my marriage and divorce with a middle-eastern woman that still haunts me and probably needs some cathartic release.

So take some time to reflect on the events in your life that you might also underestimate their effect...

Ideas come from within the writer and you need to be on the look out for the clues your subconscious mind is percolating up.

So ask yourself why do you want to write. My answer is because I need to. The follow-up question is why?

Continuing to answer these questions will help you be honest with yourself and help you find out how to do what you need to do.

So following up with that question, Why do I need to write? Because I feel like I have a story to tell. Because stories are what gave me so much escape as a child, not that I needed an escape from anything horrible, and that I want to give something back.

What stories appealed to me? The ones that immediately come to mind are David Eddings' The Belgariad, Star Wars, Star Trek, and Issac Asimov's The Foundation. Why? They seem to all share a theme of a grand drama and exploration.

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