My memory goes a long way back. I can remember my 4th birthday. I can remember the house I lived in when I was 4, in Trout Creek, Montana. I remember the kitchen table, at which I spilled my Kix cereal. This was the table where I was often found, stationed with a stack of paper and a bucket of crayons, or one of those shnazzy "paint with water" coloring books, where the pages changed color as you dripped a wet brush over them. I remember the brownish shag carpet, where I would sit with my brothers and watch Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtles. I remember the crab apple tree outside and the acres of grass and forest and trees. I remember the mountains.
I don't remember how I learned to love art. I don't remember if it was a sunset over the Rockies, or a duck in the pond across the road, or if I flipped through a National Geographic and became inspired. But I know I did not find my muse in cartoons or in my breakfast. I know that art--real art--was the catalyst for the art in me.
I did not learn to paint by watching Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtles. I did not learn to write by reading the encyclopedia. Art begets art.
Every writer... every good writer... carries a densely packaged burden. The burden is layered--it is a desire to read, to fall into a book and be immersed in its pages and drown within the words. This is the first layer, the most foundational, the most fundamental, because we cannot create great written works if we do not fully experience the creation of what we love. The second layer is a love to write. This is the layer that you want to see in a writer. It is most visible and shows the most progress.
It is with this thought that I confess, I haven't written in several months. Not just on this blog. I haven't written in Nondescript since at least November. It's not because I don't want to. I do.
In my quiet moments, when I have already calmed myself with praying, when I am trying to fall asleep and I can't, I reach into the file cabinet in my brain and pull out Nondescript and I think. I watch faces float around my head, I envision conversations yet to come, I become enthralled with the strength Gwen has gained because I did not give up on making her a good character. I could have stopped, years ago, and I didn't, because she is worth more than being some passive heroine that no one cares about.
But I don't write. And it's because I know I haven't earned it.
The best writing comes from good reading. It doesn't have to be the greatest novel in history, in fact it could be a horrible book to at least remind you not to write horrible things. But! if you are writing fiction you should be reading fiction. (Unless you're doing research. But your fiction writing should be inspired by more than just research.)
When I haven't been reading a lot lately, I don't allow myself to write unless I am intensely inspired. In order to be connected with the whole thing--my authorship, potential readers, the characters, society, the whole world--I need small reminders that this is a real thing that real people will read and they will KNOW if I'm sounding technical or if my writing is more than just research or more than just "from the heart" crap on a page. It has to be both. It can't be one or the other.
With that said, I have been reading lately. And so I will be writing.