Five Questions About Writing

Fellow author/blogger T.S. Bazelli recently answers some interesting questions on her blog, at the prompting of author/blogger John Wiswell, who was asked the questions by a reader of his blog and aspiring writer.

I am still an aspiring author myself, so my answers to these questions aren’t likely to be of any further use or insight to the original inquisitor of these questions.  But they were thought provoking enough that I thought I might learn something more about myself by addressing and answering them.  So, here goes…

1. What inspired you to be a writer?

I’ve told the story before, at length, and you can read it here.  But the short version is this: I’d pretty much always, so far as I can remember, had a love of stories and of the fantastic.  But reading Lloyd Alexander’s “Chronicles of Prydain” series was what really gave me a kick-in-the-pants.  I was in awe of the beautifully crafted story, and it made me feel emotions I hadn’t known existed: nostalgia and a sense of sadness for the loss of innocence and such things.  It was clear to me from then on that my calling in life was to replicate this feat, to try to do for others what Alexander had done for me.  By the time I was 8 or 9, then, I was already writing my first novel.  This novel was to be the driving focus of my writing for the next twenty years.

2. What is love according to you?

What is love?  I think that’s a tough question, really – and not just because philosophers and troubadours have been contemplating it for the entire history of mankind. 

The classic answer, for someone who is religious and of a Christian-flavored inclination goes this way:

Love is patient, love is kind.  Love does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.   It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

(1st Corinthians 13: 4-7, NIV Translation)

To me, love is the selfless concern for the well-being of another.  It’s wanting the best for someone else, with no thought for yourself.  The deeper you go, the deeper the love, the more that “selfless concern” transforms from a passive condition into an active state.  True love inspires you to act.  At it’s core, love is sacrifice.

3. What are your writings to you?

My writings are more than words on a page.  They’re more than stories I tell to entertain myself and others.  My writings are my still-beating heart.  They are the blood in my veins.  They are the breath in my lungs, flowing in and flowing out.  They are the fire in my mind, the electricity of neurons and synapses connecting and evolving.  They are strands of my DNA unzipping and recombining, new ideas born and new life formed.

When I look in a mirror I see my reflection, the outward image of who I am to the world.  When I look at my stories, I see my true reflection – the reflection of who I am from the inside out, made bare to the world.  My stories are me at my most vulnerable, and me at my strongest.

4. How will you define yourself as an artist?

I don’t really define myself as an artist.  I like to let my work speak for itself, and I let my passions speak through my work. 

That said… I consider myself a Fantasist, a Speculative Fiction aficionado, a Mythopoet (or Mythopoeian, except that has way to many vowels strung together), and an aspiring Con-Linguist.  I am a writer and a novelist.

5. What are the qualities in you which others do not have, and because of which you can write?

Honestly, I don’t think I possess any qualities, specifically, that others do not possess which somehow enable me to write.  Every quality I have has been demonstrated before by others.  At a macro level, I do believe I possess a combination of many different qualities that manifests uniquely within me, but you have to take into that consideration the sum of my life experience, as well as any natural advantages such an innate talent for writing, language, and story-telling, the skills I’ve developed that complement and build on that talent, and other less tangible qualities.  But I do not believe there is a magic bullet, any single quality which, if present, enables one person to write and if absent prevents another from writing. Anyone can write a story, when it comes right down to it.  Doing so successfully could come down to any number of factors: perseverance, love of writing, talent, skill, desperation, desire, inspiration, hard work, and on and on.  I try to cultivate as many of these qualities in myself as I can.

And that’s it.  If you’re a writer, an aspiring writer, or someone who’s contemplated writing in the past or the future, how would you approach these questions?


12 thoughts on “Five Questions About Writing

  1. At any level of expertise in the craft, I think these sorts of questions can be quite worthwhile. They let you know yourself a little more frankly, and in sharing them, let others both know a little more about you, and a little more about how fiction can be accessed in general. I admired your honesty in #5 in particular. I had similar feelings when she asked me about it.

    What does the quote from Corinthians mean to you, Stephen? Is it where you draw your feelings from?

    • Re: #5… It takes all kinds, in the world of writing. There’s just no one right way to do it, and there’s no one right kind of person, or one right quality. As for the Corinthians quote… I used it because it is a classic quote that many are familiar with… but I also used it because it describes a dichotomy between selflessness and selfishness. And I think it’s that dichotomy that describes love, to me. Love is when you move away from the primitive state of being selfish toward a state of being selfless. And I think this takes many forms. Love isn’t an either/or proposition… It’s something of degrees, and it’s multidimensional on it’s own terms. My love for my son manifests differently than my love for my wife, and both of those manifest differently than my love for my fellow man. I have a special place in my heart, for instance, for those who experience misfortune or difficulty… but how I express that love is radically different than how I express love to my wife, and will have a very different intensity as well. Ultimately, though, one way or another, love will spur one to action… and an act of love is going to be one of self-denial and sacrifice, because an act of love is designed to benefit another person more than it benefits yourself. When I’m acting on my feelings of love, instead of on my feelings of selfishness (which happens all too often), it shows.

  2. Holy crap. Your answer to #3… it’s like you stole the feelings right out of me.

    Also loved this:

    “I do not believe there is a magic bullet, any single quality which, if present, enables one person to write and if absent prevents another from writing. Anyone can write a story, when it comes right down to it. Doing so successfully could come down to any number of factors: perseverance, love of writing, talent, skill, desperation, desire, inspiration, hard work, and on and on. I try to cultivate as many of these qualities in myself as I can.”

    • I imagine a good many authors feel similarly about their work. My answer to #5 stems from a long life lesson in learning the difference between humility and self-deprecation. I strive for humility, not the least because a humble outlook is the only honest one, I think.

  3. It always fascinates me how some people have known they wanted to be writers since they were children. I consider myself a late-bloomer, as I didn’t get into reading for pleasure–outside of schoolwork, I mean–until I was like 16/17 and started writing fiction around that same time.

    • I don’t know that there’s any normal point in a person’s life when they might decide to become a writer. I can only speak to my personal experience… But I have seen a lot of examples from other authors that have sometimes made me question whether the manifestation of my life’s ambition at an early age was rather an unusual way of going about it, as it has at times seemed to me that a lot of published authors are more like you: “late” bloomers, and even later. I sometimes suspect 16-17 isn’t so much late as more the normal age at which the writing bug bites, and that instead I got bit a little prematurely. Whatever, though… I don’t really know. I just know that for me, stories and fiction have been central to my self-identity since most of my very earliest memories.

  4. Pingback: Writerly Wurdsday | Kristan Hoffman - writing dreams into reality

  5. Pingback: Writer Wednesday « creative barbwire (or the many lives of a creator)

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