My guest this week is a fellow thriller writer, ex-pat and Spain-dweller. His interesting article touches on a subject that is as fascinating as it is varied in its answers. Without further ado, I give you...
Paul A. Rice
Why I Write
& Why You Should...
If I'm to be honest, I'm not really sure why I write. I've dabbled several times along the way, but never seriously. It just comes upon me, the need to write, and almost surprisingly I find myself at the keypad again. I have never really applied myself before as it takes a lot of self-belief, which I didn't have back in the old days of my dabbling. I seem to remember getting serious when I was on a very lonely job in Kandahar, Afghanistan. There was no TV, no internet, and the food was horrendous. Nor was there much alcohol available, or anyone to share it with when I did manage to scrounge some. So, I hit the keypad and started writing, just to stop myself from going mad. I'm not sure I succeeded...
These days I have become addicted to writing. It is so challenging, but also very rewarding. I have spent thousands of hours writing my books and have nothing but respect for those authors who have made a success of their work. I now know exactly how much dedication and hard work it takes just to get a draft copy finished, never mind a highly-polished and ready for publication manuscript. I write because I love doing it. The task is immense, but I like a challenge. The other bonus is that since I've been writing I have had the privilege of making many new friends via Twitter and other social media applications. Keeping up to date with their writing and Blogs etc, is a great way for me to learn more about the art.
It's not easy being an indie author, and the task can seem almost fruitless at times - but we're all allowed those dark days, no matter what we do. Some days you just get out of bed on the wrong side. The bonus is that I get to do exactly what I want with my work, and I can release new books very quickly after they have been completed. It's also fun - reading feedback, watching sales, trying to make 'it' happen. You learn to treat these things with the disregard they deserve, which is why I said it was fun. If it's not fun, and you're not a multi-millionaire, famous author who has to honour a publishing contract, then why are you doing it?
Make it fun. Enjoy the experience. It can only enhance your learning, and who knows where it will lead?
I consider the last five years as my apprenticeship in the art of writing - I don't think you can ever stop learning in this game. I've made mistakes, I've been naive and I've been far too impatient, which is normal with me. But, I have learned and learned an awful lot. I put a lot of my learning down to the feedback I have received from critics. Someone once told me that I needed to hone my writing 'blade' in the white heat of my critics' fire - never a truer word said. I take heed of every word they say. Some of those words stay with me daily. I'm also thoroughly determined, obsessed even, to get this right. The feeling one gets upon receiving a good review is what makes all of this worthwhile - knowing that someone far away has enjoyed the tale, bonded with the characters, is all the motivation I need.
I don't sit down and make a big plan about my next writing project - I get an idea, see the settings in my mind, smell the places, watch the imaginary characters growing, and then I wander around for a few weeks thinking about the whole idea. Finally, and filled with trepidation, I simply sit down and start writing. It amazes me how the words and characters just seem to appear at times.
You know, I've read some of my own work and can't even remember writing it. Bizarre? Yes. Fruitful? Definitely.
I consider my life experience to be the source of my inspiration, my qualification, if you will. I call upon all the ghosts of my yesterdays to help me when I write. They have never abandoned me, even though I have tested their patience many times. They, when coupled to my vivid imagination, provide me with an endless sea of ideas. I probably possess a rather ironic and very humorous outlook on life, and this crazy world in general, which I certainly hope comes out in my lead characters at times.
If you want to write, then my main advice would be that you have to be prepared to spend many hours on your work, and be even more prepared to go back again and again to keep on trying to improve the story. However, I would also suggest that you don't try to write like other people, you are who you are, find your style, your voice, and run with it.
But, most of all - never give up, not ever.
Oh, and get yourself an editor - a good one. I didn't for a long time, and I've paid the price.
If you want to write - then start now, write that story, it doesn't matter how much you don't know about writing - you'll get better at it, you'll learn. You can ride a bicycle, right?
If you don't tell that tale, the one sitting right in the middle on the inside of your own head, then it will never be told.
Now, that would be a complete tragedy.
Get writing, come on - go for it!
Link: Hunters - A Trilogy
I was born in 1961 in Rhodesia (now called Zimbabwe) to English parents. My father worked for Caltex Oils and my mother for the Rhodesian Government. I spent the majority of my early days at various boarding schools in Rhodesia, before returning to the UK in 1975, where I attended school in Marlborough. Since then I have lived in many different places throughout the world - at present I live in the sunny province of Almeria in southern Spain. I work internationally during the day, and I write at night. My favourite times are when I get to go home and be with my gorgeous wife - Jane. I also like to watch a whole heap of motorcycle racing on the TV. I love reading and I adore writing. Oh, and a cold beer isn't too far down the list of my favourite things, either...
My latest novel 'Hunters - A Trilogy' has just been released. 'Tears in Tripoli - A Jake Collins Novel' is a fictional thriller that I wrote after being in Libya whilst providing security services to some of the world's top media teams. The book has received some great reviews and is growing in stature on a monthly basis.
At present I am busy writing Jake's second tale. 'Dangerous Games' is turning into a real cracker - you can read a preview on my website. I am also fermenting the idea for a new thriller. Well...really, the truth is that I just haven't had the time to start writing it yet. I'm too scared that it will distract me from finishing Jake's sequel. But, it's there. I can see the whole story and all of the people involved – all of them. They're in my head, waiting for me to release them...
Thanks, Paul, for a peek into the inner workings. Take care, and keep safe!
Eric @ www.ericjgates.com