Monday, May 25, 2009

Why did you become a writer?

I first decided to be a writer when I was about twelve because of comic books.

I was in grade seven. I’d been collecting comics for two years already—primarily Bill Mantlo’s Micronauts. Then I found Frank Miller’s Daredevil. He was one of the first celebrated auteurs of modern (post-Eisner, post-Ditko) comics, probably because he was in the “big two” of Marvel/DC. I’d never before seen the intensity possible in a work drawn by the same person who wrote it.

Narration in comics had generally been awful. Now I was reading DD #179 (I think), and finding a narrative shift from (I think) omniscient to first-person (reporter Ben Urich, who for some reason reminds me now of Seymour Hirsh).

That stunned me. A narrative switch? Twenty years later I’d employ that same approach to the tune of eleven narrators in my first published novel, The Coyote Kings of the Space-Age Bachelor Pad.

So I’d already known, because of Michael Golden’s and Pat Broderick’s work on *Micronauts*, that I wanted to be a comic book artist. But as a result of Miller (and now that I think of it, also because of auteur Jim Starlin on *Warlock*), I was determined to write, not only draw.

By grade ten I found Frank Herbert’s *Dune* (hm… two Franks?). I’d known of the work for some time and had seen the David Lynch film on opening night, but what truly excited me about the work was the glossary. My friend Robert Oska had written his own story (for a class project) set in the *Dune* universe. I’d never seen a work so rich in imagination it demanded its own glossary. I determined one day to write my own novel with a glossary.

I’ve now written two (unpublished) SF epics with glossaries. Hopefully, when I have time to put each of those megabooks on a diet (one is 300,000 words and the other is closer to 400,000), they’ll be in a bookstore near you.

I gave up on comics when, around age 20, I’d seen the demands that drawing them made on my friend Adrian Kleinbergen, a terrific cartoonist who created the R-Mer costume that ender up in *Coyote Kings*. A ton of work for little pay, and grueling hours to meet deadlines. And hell, a page took a day and if it had mistakes, it meant starting over. As a writer, I could create a bunch of pages in one day and fix them with a few clicks or at worst, a couple of hours of revision.

I’m now at the point where I’ve written five manuscripts and am half-way through a sixth. Yet it’s been four years since I completed my last one. Although I did write a spec screenplay and a couple of spec pilots and a bunch of articles, I know how easy it is not to write a book. So if you’ve never finished a book or if you have and you’ve lost your way, as I did, let me urge you to adopt the one page a day programme. You can choose to make one page = 250 words, or 500.

You’ll often write more. Just never write less. If you can do 500 words a day, in five months your book will be done.

So I’ve asked you all to comment on why you became a writer in hopes you might inspire someone who’s never started or who’s gotten lost along the way. Because the world gets better with every good book and every person who meets his or her dream to write one.

I strongly recommend Jeff VanderMeer's forthcoming Booklife and Chris Roerden's
Don't Murder Your Mystery for great advice and inspiration on writing books.

So please, SHARE THE STORY OF HOW, WHEN AND WHY you decided to become a writer... why doing so was, as you saw it, the fulfillment of your dreams or your destiny.

1 comment:

thegrumpyowl said...

I tried to answer your question on my blog.

http://thegrumpyowl.wordpress.com/2009/05/26/why-write-why-not/