No, dear sweet LoFs (Legions of Fans), your spiritual guide and fearless leader is not questioning his mission. Despite the existential crisis this post’s title may seem to suggest, your hero doesn’t tremble at the slavering hordes of naysayers, illiterates, back biters, and syndicators that stand in his path.
No, I say! I shall become a successful writer of speculative fiction! I will build me a mighty armada of outlines, and set sail on an ocean of dreams to discover new worlds. With siege engines of piss and vinegar, I will smash the gates of the publishing industry and plunder their fat treasuries. I shall plumb the subterranean depths of the Weird and the Ghastly with my words. On an A-10 Warthog of courage, I will strafe the e-book market place with the armor-piercing bullets of my insight into the human condition. And when I’m done, I’ll have to buy a blimp to survey my riches in their entirety.
The point of this post is to explain or examine why, I’m starting and continuing this journey. That is, of course, putting aside the blimp and the treasure that wait at the finish line for me.
One contributing factor for my pursuit of the authorly arts, is my day job. It’s good enough, it pays the bills. But I don’t love it and I know it isn’t “for me.” Now, you might say, “How bout you try getting a job elsewheres?” And I would say, “You’ve got poor grammar, and that really isn’t an option for a variety of reasons right now.”
Another big factor, and this is the probably the biggest one. Are certain powerful images I can’t get out of my head. Over at Mad Genius Club, Soul Sister Sarah Hoyt wrote a big ol’ post on the phenomenon a few weeks ago:
We don’t talk about it a lot for reasons of not being that fond of “I love me” jackets. Among writers, sure, particularly late at night at a con bar. That’s when we say things like “And the damn thing dictated itself to me” Or “I’d never planned on killing the character, and damn, she was dead, and there was nothing I could do about it” or the truly freaky “And the story was done. I had another ten pages of outline, but no, it was done, this was the right ending, and I wasn’t going to be allowed to change it.” Other things you will hear about: writers who see/hear their characters/plot/events in the book. Now, this can range from anything like what I have — thank Bob, no Visual/audio hallucinations. Yet. — which is just thoughts, at the back of the head, in a voice that is definitely NOT mine. (Important: Terry Pratchett was absolutely right when he said “always remember which voice is yours.” Otherwise you DO need that “I love me jacket” or at least some really good drugs.)
However, if my colleagues aren’t bullsh*tting me, … the experiences range from “just knowing when the story is right” … to full on visual/audio hallucinations.
I’m not claiming to have entire novels dictated to me (or hallucinations for that matter), but I can attest to certain scenes just “coming to me.” It happened on and off before I gave fiction writing a serious look (when you’ve got kids, a wife, and a day job, you gotta be ruthless when it comes to hobbies and interests).
Once I started really writing, the visitations became more frequent. I try to scribble them down every time. Most of them don’t relate to the current project (because of course they don’t). Some are powerful enough that I get visibly choked up when they come. Like a talking dog that sacrifices itself for the protagonist’s safety. It was a Airedale Terrier if you’re curious. I wrote it down in a notebook and I hope I can use that fragment some day.
But if I can’t, at least I got it out of my head. And THAT’s why I’m doing this. And who could say no to a story about this guy?