Every once in an age, the celestial bodies come into alignment, and a child is born whose destiny is the salvation of all worlds. In every age, in every story, the tale is different. One star does not equal another; and one life may be great while another is small. So when the boy was given life in the rural parts of a north-western town, nobody could’ve guessed what would become of his life.
I was not that child.
“Writers live twice.”
Nor do I know him.
If I ever meet him I’d happily tell his story. But I’m unfortunately not him.
“You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.”
I’m am a writer. I’m also an author. I’ve struggled to label myself as either of those things, because the god-like nature of the people we admire elevates them so far beyond what we can ever hope to achieve, and I know in my heart I’ll never be like my idols. But sooner or later you have to just accept the truth for what it is. I may not be able to tell a story quite like Robert Louis Stevenson or Mary Shelley, but nevertheless I’ve been telling stories my whole life, and now that I have one bound on paper, I’m a writer and an author, like it or don’tcha.
“When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself, ‘I am going to produce a work of art.’ I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing.”
The truth is, writing isn’t something we do so much because it’s carefree and easy as because we must. Stories begin as an image, like the first shot of a reel that becomes a film, and my mind becomes the driving force that rolls that film out for the world to see. Setting, characters, plotting, conflicts, story arcs, and conclusions don’t just happen: they are the product of painful wringing of filthy hands against the horrid screen of what I can feel is the destitute nature of life as I know it. Somewhere in the sultry mess of weeds and thorns every other soul struggles through unknowing is a diamond ready to be polished; and though the process is painful, the result is far more rewarding.
“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”
Well, that’s a rather glum way of looking at it. Writing isn’t always like that: sometimes the words flow, and the writer is as much the sand on the banks of the river which does nothing but let the water move it as it wills than a slave toiling in the mines. More often than not, we are little more than a machine that churns and turns as it must, because it is a machine.
“Remember: Plot is no more than footprints left in the snow after your characters have run by on their way to incredible destinations.”
—Ray Bradbury, WD
As a child, I remember turning the pages of a book that had no pictures, not knowing what the words on the page meant, only wishing that someone might think I knew. I remember learning how the characters represent the sounds, and I remember learning that I could convey my own thoughts by manipulating the words. I remember the first stories I wrote, and I’ll likely never forget them. I haven’t stopped writing since.
“Literature is strewn with the wreckage of men who have minded beyond reason the opinions of others.”
I love to write science-fiction and fantasy fiction, and Once upon a time I would’ve told you that was my genre, though now I’m not so sure. I’ve grown up writing whenever I could, pouring out the things I saw onto paper; and I think my writing has grown as much as I have. There’s always been stories developing in the back of my mind, and they’ve usually been quite broad in genre, ranging from light-hearted fantasies to dark science fiction and horror. But what matters to me more than the genre (oh genres — right, who thought it’d be a good idea to mix western and fantasy, anyway?) is the psychology. You see, writing has the ability to show us aspects of ourselves we otherwise have a hard time seeing. Like Frankenstein’s monster coming to terms with who he is, Dr Jekyll cleaning up Mr Hyde’s mess, or Jonathan Harker hunting Dracula, these stories demonstrate just how corrupt the nature of life is – and how one who is willing can still unravel and make sense of it.