A couple of days ago, I completed my 1000th story. It’s a feeling impossible to describe exactly: a mix of wonder, disbelief, fierce pride, and an acknowledgement the universe still owes me nothing for my efforts. 🙂
Somebody observed I seem to be more concerned about the quantities involved rather than the actual stories and books. That’s not true. I love what I do, and only let out the stories that I’m happy with, pleased with, or that I love. However, soon after I started, I got into a serious argument with a couple of ex-friends over my ability to create anything of worth, the discipline to underpin that creating, and – to use a polite version – my reason to exist on this planet.
Over a decade has passed since that evening. Every book I publish adds to a number that a few people were sure I was incapable of achieving. (There’s the best revenge, right there: live well, doing what you want, and doing it as well as you can.)
I find myself wondering how I create like I do. When I read the writer community posts on Twitter and a few on Facebook, I can’t relate – except I remain in awe of those who raise families, have day jobs, and write. Apart from that, I simply don’t understand the questions about character motivations, details of their lives, plotting out entire books using the latest specialist software – it’s all alien to me.
I have something I call a ‘storymaking engine’ in my head. Most of the time, stories just tumble into the open document and I have no idea where they came from or where they’re going until I type it. Characters, lives, events. It all just appears. My job is to continuity check, tidy up, and let the better ones out into the world.
Because of that, I used to worry about what I do, or how I do it. But, in the end, it’s not invalid, it’s merely different: my way of creating. I’ll not attempt to mess with it – a decision that was a long time coming, while I learned a couple of personal rules the hard way: my gift will not write on demand, nor obey schedules, and acute money worries send it into hiding. But, if I keep myself tolerably funded and leave it be, I will create at a ridiculous rate. To the point where I have to consciously decide to stop writing.
Yes, I’d like to sell a few more books. But in these technological times, the ‘impoverished author’ remains a vocation with no guarantees of financial wellbeing. I’ve sold a few thousand books, and have had complete strangers compliment me on my work, which is astounding. It’s humbling, knowing people enjoy the words that tumble from my head.
I started out with the mantra ‘my books, my way’. Since then, I’ve added the six word creed that’s taken me from struggling with my first novel to forty published books and games, with half a dozen other books completed but unpublished, and over fifty more in progress.
Just write. Never stop. Have fun.
Stay with me for the next thousand stories. It’s going to be quite a ride.