Ok, that’s nearly a lie. I don’t have an email bag. It’s more like I occasionally get a piece of mail. As of this moment, I’ve had 13,907 hits on the site this month. That comes out to 23 hits per hour and 556 per day. Who are you people?
I appreciate you.
Anyway, so I got a piece of mail. Lovely. It asks a pretty standard question about inspiration and comparisons.
I can already tell that if, as part of the book release, I wind up doing interviews on blogs and whatever — I’m going to struggle. These are questions I don’t like to answer partly because I feel pretentious comparing myself to authors I respect and partly because I don’t think it’s my place to do to the comparing.
Allow me to slip into my monogrammed robe and light my pipe. Right. So where were we? Ah yes.
I don’t like doing the comparing. I just want to write the story. Each of us has our own internal compass. The music, the movies, the books and images that inspire us to do our thing, to think about the things that matter to us.
Round about 1996 when all hell broke loose in my life I basically cast off from shore and said to hell with [fill in the blank]. (Yes, it was about escape) Where was I? Oh yeah. On the great waters I passed buoys anchored in the sea. They inspired me tremendously and helped steer my catharsis. In no small way I was hugely affected by: Fitzgerald, MacDonald, Lovecraft, Lewis, Peake, O’Brien, Bradbury, Welch, Miéville, Faulkner, Carrol, King and of course Gygax.
It’s a motley mix and match and some might argue that they don’t make for a very cohesive group. Nevertheless, there you have the major players, each of them for a different reason, be it their ability to shock, turn a phrase, inspire grand visions, mystify or tug on the soul.
Inspiration is easier to talk about than comparison. Music does wonderful things for me as a writer, helping to solidify scenes. Picking a song at random from among hundreds that I find put me in that uneasy but energizing mental place: try this here. (By the way, I’ve never seen the video and I don’t intend to watch it. I dislike videos because they screw with my ability to imagine my own images.)
I never listen to music while I write because, it taints the words. I have to shut it off before I start typing so that I’m on neutral ground. Just me and the words.
Writing is an assimilation for me, that pulls from the compost of what I saw and felt and read or listened to yesterday. It’s about what I’m learning. And it’s the snake tongue tasting the air out in front, deciding which way to go. The words take on their own life. They are reckless where I would never be. They do things I cannot. They are weapons, armor, engines chugging. They are fearless.
Faulkner taught me to be fearless. You have to be fearless to write a chapter made up of only five words: “My mother is a fish.”
So the words are my stones. I hurl them from the cliff, angrily sometimes, unconcerned with what they hit, but still listening for the sound.
I hope this answers your question.