Life, Inspiration, and . . . a Red Sheep?

What a week to have to write a post for this wonderful blog (authored by some of the greatest human beings I know!). Somehow, I’ve got to write a post that follows David Farland–arguably one of the most successful writers of just about anything and everything speculative fiction–a book give away, and an insightful and scary look into the functioning of the brain?

What if I just put a cool picture of a red sheep out there and call it a day? No?

To be honest, the picture has nothing at all to do with this post. I just liked it and wanted to use it in a blog post. I probably should have saved it, using it when I had an idea for a post that would actually work with a picture of a red sheep.

And if I’m honest once again, this is about the most I’ve written in the last three weeks. And in November of all months! I competed in NaNoWriMo last year and won, finishing before Thanksgiving, but this year, nothing. So, what happened? Life happened.

And just so I don’t give the wrong impression, nobody died. But neither do I want to talk about what it was here on a public blog. What it was isn’t the issue. The issue is the lack of writing. Nay, the lack of desire to write.

For three weeks, I’ve tried on occasion to sit at the computer–butt in chair, hands on keyboard and all that–but nothing has happened. It seemed there was little I could do to will the words from my brain out onto the screen. It was a little like trying to wring water from a dry sponge.

I was empty.

Being an aspiring author, the prospect that there were no more words inside was a little frightening. A literary suffocation.

It didn’t take me long, however, to realize the only way to fill something up with whatever it is it needs–words in the case of this writer’s mind–is to feed it what it needs. For over two years, I’ve been so focused on my own writing that I’ve neglected my reading. Oh, I read a book here or there, usually new releases by certain authors I simply can’t wait to read. But my pace of a book every 3-4 weeks (I’m a slow reader with a day job, what can I say?) had slowed dramatically. I’d been on the same book for over four months.

So I read.

In three weeks, I finished the last 300+ pages of the book I was stuck in, read another hefty fantasy book–The Heroes, by Joe Abercrombie–and started A Wise Man’s Fear, by Patrick Rothfuss. Yeah, I’m a little behind. My list of books that I’ve bought and need to read is over 25 books long.

Some people might gasp to know I haven’t even cracked A Dance With Dragons. I know, I’m ashamed. I deserve to be punished.

But in reading Abercrombie, Rothfuss, and the unnamed author in whose awesome book I’d been stalled for months, I remembered why I’ve wanted to be a writer since elementary school, and why I came to the conclusion that I had to write fantasy after reading Robert Jordan’s The Eye of the World for the first time.

The sheer joy of the story. The careful selection and placement of words, and the emotions they invoke. The characters who seem more like good friends than ink on paper. The anticipation of what waits on the other side of the page. These are the reasons I’ve always wanted to be a writer, all the things that made me love being a reader.

Some successful authors will tell you they don’t read in the genre they themselves write. Others will say they read a wide range of literature. Personally, I read a fairly wide range of books, though admittedly, the vast majority is speculative fiction. Namely fantasy. It’s just what I’ve always loved reading; deciding to write it hasn’t changed that fact.

So, um, yeah. Read. That’s my advice. To anyone, but especially aspiring writers. Not every reader is a writer, but every writer was a reader first.

And you have to admit, the sheep picture is sweet.

3 responses on “Life, Inspiration, and . . . a Red Sheep?

  1. KylieQ

    Love the sheep piccie! And I know what y0u mean about sometimes there being nothing left. As much as we often talk about how we have to be disciplined and push ourselves to write, sometimes we have to acknowledge that we need time to step back and breathe and pull ourselves back together. So don’t beat yourself up about it – just accept that you need some time out.

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