I mentioned once, WAAAAY back when I first began writing this blog, that I’d at one point started and subsequently tapered off from writing a separate blog previous to this one. It was meant to be a space where I could share my thoughts on writing, on reading, my influences, the process, and all that was involved in all of those things; I was still in college at the time and my days were spent writing. I couldn’t escape it—but sometimes I miss those days. Adult life can be a bummer sometimes and while English was certainly no cakewalk, it was something I really, truly enjoyed.
Recently I had the itch to revisit that blog and while many of the few posts that are up are related fairly exclusively to the novel I was writing at that time, there were a couple of posts that I felt were worth sharing here. I haven’t written A LOT about the writing process or the practices that can help you write better or writing in general really, but I’ve mentioned before that I’d like to share more on that subject and this feels like a good addition.
It may come as a surprise that the things that make me want to write every day are often times not books.
Don’t get me wrong, books excite me and the beautiful turn of phrase of some of the greatest literary virtuosos makes me want to keep up, do the same, and be the virtuoso some 21-year-old is writing about on his blog.
But, when I was a kid, I loved books, I loved TV, but I also loved video games. I grew up with an older brother who I adored, and still do, who spent time with me, often times, playing games on an SNES. I spent a lot of time doing that, and I loved it, but when he grew up, went to college, got married, I was kind of left to play games on my own.
When I was a little kid though, I fell in love, inadvertently, with games I didn’t understand, games with rich stories and developed characters and pacing as smooth as butter. As I grew up, I came to understand them better and fell in love with them for it, all over again.
And you know what, I’m proud of that.
I’ve heard the era of gaming we’re in is film’s equivalent to “The Jazz Singer.” Story, and the ability to tell it, has been allowed to progress in a way it never has before and while some would argue the best stories written in games were back in the 90’s, some of the best-written stories are being told today.
The same is true with television. And movies. And…what else? Comics! Anything.
Writing has always been the answer to tell these stories and, perhaps it’s the best way. Being able to reach inside a character and hear their thoughts and emotions is something that is impossible to duplicate in any other form. Fresh cut lawn clippings can come off of a page, smelling and feeling and tasting (okay, too far) the way they do. They can be fantastical or ordinary, but that’s the beauty of it: anything so simple can become as complex as it wants to be. Seeing something up on a screen is one thing, but reading seeps into the reader, sewing them up in the warmth or nervousness or hot romance of whatever is that is on the page. It intertwines with the soul in a way nothing ever will.
But it isn’t the only way to tell things and sometimes, not writing and not reading make us even better writers.
Reading any one genre (literary fiction, paranormal romance, hard SFF, and so on and so forth) will make any writer weak. A genre is rife with tropes and trappings and to be a good writer, you have to branch out. You have to be willing to read something you wouldn’t normally read, write things in a way that is different from what you read, and embrace the storytelling found in everything else.
Everyone tells artists of any kind to grow up, but in truth, we have it the best because we get to stay a child forever. We’ll pay bills, go through hardships, but we get to live in our imagination and that’s okay. Childhood is more than being a child. It’s hope and faith and the things we lose, but the best of us always manage a way to find it again.