When asked to write a post on what inspired me to be a writer I went blank. Couldn’t think of a thing. Most everyone else was talking about things they’d seen, books they read, that sort of thing, but when really thinking about it, my inspiration didn’t come from any external source. In the immortal words of Neil Gaiman, “It came from my head.”
I’m an addict, and my drug of choice is daydreaming. Has been from a very early age. If I’m not actively involved in a conversation with another person, or engrossed in a work of fiction, I’m locked in my head beating up bad guys or taking over the world–or both. I spend most of my day thinking about being someone else someplace else. So, naturally, when I started writing, all I was doing was writing what I had experienced in my head.
To tell the truth, I’ve been writing far longer than I wanted to be a writer. I think I started writing when I was in junior high school (I particularly remember a story about a group of kids my age who were trapped in their school, which had been sucked into a kind of limbo universe where nothing existed but the school-yeah, I was a weird kid). I never took it seriously at all. Making up stories was just something I did, like other kids doodled cartoons on their notebooks.
At some point in my teenage years (probably around eighteen or nineteen) I wondered what it would be like to get sucked into an alternate world with magic. Not original, I know, but bear with me. I started going through scenarios in my head as to how I would react in that situation. In true Walter Mitty fashion, I wasn’t really myself, but a better, braver, prettier, cleverer version of myself. At some point in the daydream, I got the weird notion that I would get imprisoned in a mountain. This brought up a question.
What would a magically inclined person be like if they were locked in a dark, underground prison, alone, for hundreds of years? How would they cope? What would they do to get out, and what would they be like when they did?
From that kernel was born my first trunk novel.
It was while writing that book, that I realized how much I really love writing. I’d been doing it forever, already. And I decided that, since it didn’t look like I was going to be rockstar, I’d be a writer.
Just about all my stories have started out just like that first trunk novel. What would it be like to experience this thing that I’ve never experienced, to be this person I’ve never been? Using myself as a starting point makes it easier to get into the idea. A dozen or so scenario’s later, and the idea has a life of its own. Those are the stories I end up writing down.
To be honest, what was in my head was influenced by real events in my life, books I read, music I listened to, and movies and television I had seen, all mashed up in my subconscious and bubbling out in my own unique way. Now that I think about it, the things in my head always had a tendency to work as stories because, after growing up sequestered in my room, reading fiction, I have a very twisted view of the world. I get frustrated when life doesn’t function like a piece of fiction (I’ve come to realize that I walk around listening to music constantly because I feel the need for my life to have a soundtrack-yeah, I’m still a weird kid).
This odd way of looking at the world sort of perpetuates my need to daydream. Life isn’t structured in three acts. We don’t get to skip the boring parts to keep the momentum going. People aren’t characters with understandable motivations.
Real life is complicated.
But dang it, it shouldn’t be! And so, I escape this nonsensical reality to my crazy made up worlds.
I am the first to admit that this is not a healthy way of looking at the world. But I ask you: How else am I going to experience life as a ridiculously rich and famous, deliriously beautiful, impossibly crafty, immortal vampire mage who travels through time to other planets in parallel universes?