Saturday, 10 December 2011
New beginnings and forced entries.
It's been a while since I've updated my blog and a lot happened during that time. I have to apologize for my absence, but I really had to come to an understanding before I could let you all in on the happenings and goings on in my world. This year's Surrey international writers conference was in a word awesome. I met old friends from previous years and some new ones as well. The conference is always a great place to make connections and maintain motivation for writing because what we do is not easy. If it was easy everyone would do it, and while many would like to, few have the discipline to see it through completion. So I'm always amazed and enlightened to see the same people working on previous or new projects. They bring with them such a passion for the art and for the craft that one can't help but walk away feeling rejuvenated and inspired. This year was a special year for me in that my book Grey Redemption was not only for sale in the chapters outlet store that sells books at the conference every year. But, I was also included in this year's author signing. To be part of the author signing with such luminary writers as Jack Whyte, Michael Slade, and Robert McCammon was a humbling experience. In fact, Jack Whyte bought my book and asked me to personalize it for him. So what do you write as a personal note for someone so incredibly skilled in the art of storytelling. Okay, now that you figured that out how to you write past the tears that are bound to come when one of your personal icons asks you to do so. This event coupled perfectly with Robert McCammon's keynote address about writing or rather storytelling. The main thrust of his presentation was that as writers we should write from the heart. That is to say reach down deep within ourselves and grasp that fiery spark that compels us, and allows us, to sit in front of a computer for 4 hours a day and be "creative". Writing is a passion, it's been said by far greater people than me and will be again, but as passion is an emotion we as storytellers need to be careful about our own personal emotional state before putting pen to paper. The characters in our books or manuscripts if they haven't been published tend to impact our personality far more than we would believe. They become part of us and if the character is rather strong or bent in a particular direction they leave a stain. The craft is a two-way street. We think and create characters and place them in a scene in which they interact with other characters we've created. We have a little conflict, perhaps a little drama, and try to tie it up neatly with a bow. But on the other side of the street these creations of our imagination latch on to our own psyche. They worm their way into our own personality and while we may or may not be aware of it, they create change. If you created a rather nasty individual like Rhys Munroe, as I did in Grey Redemption, the impact to your own soul or psyche can be exponential. By this I mean it starts off slowly like an addiction to cigarettes. At first it's just one at the bar with friends, and then a couple more in the evening before bed. Pretty soon you're standing outside in a snowstorm huddling against the wall frozen like a corpse trying to inhale smoke that contains the lovely drug nicotine into your lungs. There was a study done, I believe it was in the UK that looked at how what we read as readers affected our personality. As with most studies it was far from conclusive but there was definitely a correlation between what we read and how we thought. Now whether that was a causal relation was unclear. Do readers pick books because they have a certain personality and these books appeal to them or do the books actually affect their personality. While it was unclear in the study, for me at least it is very clear. The characters and situations and scenes that I create most certainly affect my personality and outlook on the world. Consequently, I've gone through a rather dramatic life event. My spouse and I have separated after being married for almost 7 years, and together for 10. The official version to answer the why of it is "growing in different directions." But in reality the truth of it is Mr. Munroe dug in and held on a little more than I thought. I've heard of actors having this difficulty. So completely becoming the other character that they have to struggle to come back from that reality to the old reality of their own personality. I believe the same to be true for writers. We wrap ourselves tightly within a plot and character arc that we lose pieces of ourselves in doing so. It doesn't help that as soon as you write a book you move very quickly into the next phase which is promoting said book you just wrote. Believe me when I say that the writing and editing of the book is far easier than the dog and pony show of promotion. While it's very fun to fly to London England and stay at the wonderful Savoy hotel while attending the London book fair. It still takes a large toll out of your life. You very quickly move from dictating your own time to time being dictated to you. The quiet mornings of coffee, a cigar, and checking social media sites out of interest will rapidly swing to staying up-to-date with your blog and social media. I guess it's like my father said it's always fun until becomes a job and then it's just work. Although I don't like to use the word "just" within the context of writing. I guess that's probably the point of this blog. Writers just don't create great characters, storytellers just don't come up with great plots, and authors rarely survive the craft unscathed. We, and those close to us, really do bleed for the craft sometimes, and I've actually spent the last 8 weeks trying to determine if it was worth it. Robert McCammon has said on many occasions that writers and authors are very special people, that what we do is magical. I agree with Rick's statement and his belief in what we do is truly in a special realm. So with that firmly placed on one side of the scale I placed the loss of a friend on the other side of this scale and tried to come to terms with the outcome. It wasn't easy, and it certainly didn't come quickly as my absence in blogging shows. But with all things grief related there is a schedule to how things play out. It would be far easier if everything was a linear process but rarely is the case true when you add human beings, emotions, beliefs, morals, and such to the equation. But here we are, and I very proudly steal the statement, the call, the reveille; " This day we write!"