I’ve murdered men. I’ve started wars, had great loves, lived through apocalyptic plagues, survived on Mars and been an ambulance driver in The Great War. And it was all in my head. That’s why I love books. That’s why they inspire me.
Great books give me something I can’t get anywhere else. As an author, as a reader, as a guy with a set of working eyes and an endlessly curious brain, I can’t replace the feeling of complete satisfaction, of complete transportation when I read a good book.
Is that what inspires me to write? Partially.
In truth, it’s a mix of feelings. Awe, satisfaction, excitement, and just a tinge of jealousy. That last one is important. It’s what drives me to keep working. I sometimes read something so good (for instance, Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice) and it makes me mad. Not that I think those fantastically creative, hard working, eloquent people don’t deserve what they have, but because I haven’t gotten there myself. I see something beautiful, and I desperately want to be a part of it. So, I go back to the grindstone. I do that last revision, change that line, give that character a squinch more motivation to finish their quest.
Maybe that’s the wrong way to go about it. Could be that letting envy motivate me is entirely self-destructive. Frankly, I don’t care. Whatever it takes to compel me to put out the best work I can, I’ll do. Writing anything is a hard business to break into, writing novels a magnitude harder than that. You really have to shine and work your fingers into nubs if you ever want to make enough to simply feed yourself.
And that’s fine, because there are people like me who are crazy enough to try anyway.
Reading a great novel is what keeps me going, keeps me working to no end, chasing no goal in particular other than to make my next book the absolute best it can be. I want to be the guy who immerses people, who makes them live a thousand years in the future, and remember it as well as they remember their first beer. That’s what inspires me to write.
By M. Stephen Stewart
I’m looking forward to reading this book. –Dawn
The authors of Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Bobbsey Twins, and many other books written for children were actually written by ghost writers for Edward Stratemeyer and his daughters. Read the article here.
When I first found this out, I had to check on my favorite sleuth when I was young, Trixie Belden. I was relieved to find out that at least the 6 books were actually written by Julie Campbell but the remainder of the series was also written by ghost writers under the pseudonym Kathryn Kenny.
Richard Peck talks about writing for young readers.