Writers Hate Writing. Really?

I guess it used to be hard to write a novel, scribbling across the parchment with your quill, fretting every time you make a mistake, blotting the ink… Even a young 50-year-old like me wonders how he ever typed college papers … remember Tippex anyone (I believe it was called White Out here in the colonies)?

So now everyone’s a writer. I get it. But what I don’t understand is the complaining about writing. I opened a Writer’s Digest this weekend, an old one from the end of 2012, and it was full of articles on Writer’s Block, discipline, and how we need to force ourselves to write.

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In the space of 24 hours, I was interviewed by a high school student who kept asking about writer’s block, discipline, and how I maintain my focus; then I was invited to speak at a workshop on Writer’s Block.

In the aforementioned issue of Writer’s Digest, there are articles and a hilarious graph (way to go Zachery Petit) on doing everything but writing. One article is about overcoming writer’s block without willpower, another has you spending an hour or so writing and the rest of the day doing all kinds of wonderful “author” things like visiting bookstores and doing field research. There is an article about extreme measures authors took to keep their “butt in the seat,” including Frank Burrows who would chain himself to a chair and drink lots of Tab (a soda that is pretty torturous in itself) so that his bladder was bursting, I assume.

William Styron is quoted as saying: “I certainly don’t enjoy writing. I get a fine warm feeling when I’m doing well, but that pleasure is pretty much negated by the pain of getting started each day. Let’s face it: Writing is hell.”

The author of the article continues: “I get it. I get why writers hate writing.”

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I don’t! I really don’t! If you don’t enjoy writing don’t do it. There are things we all have to do: taxes, flossing, cleaning the bathroom, but not writing. Sure there are hard times: when the plot doesn’t work, or when your heroine does something out-of-character, but to hate writing?

I LOVE writing. I can’t wait to fire up my laptop and pound the keys. When I am not writing, I become frustrated and (according to my family) pretty darn annoying. I LOVE the thrill of the unknown plot twist. I CRAVE the company of my characters, and I RIDE the adrenaline rush of the scenes unfolding under my fingertips.

When a beloved character fails or dies, I cry. When battle is joined, I apparently mumble and wince out loud as people are wounded or killed. I have never learned how to type properly (touch typing?), but my fingers fly across the keyboard as I get increasingly excited. Sure there are many squiggly red and green lines, but I can worry about that later.

When I finish a novel, the first thing I want to do is celebrate. The second thing is to start the next book. In my own fantasy world, I would just write the novels. Others would edit, market and do all the other ‘stuff’ that authors need to do these days. I just wanna write.

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I don’t mean nothing else. I love my day job and feel I am, as Steve Jobs expressed: ‘helping to put a dent in the world.’ I love my family and am truly blessed to have a soul mate who tolerates me with all my quirks. It really doesn’t get much better than that.

The high school student asked at the end of our interview:” “When do you know you are a writer?” I answered that it’s when you never leave the story, even when you are doing something else. It’s when you crave returning to the computer and when you take immense pride in the story unfolding.

That is my answer. Every author probably has something different to offer and I am sure they are all right. But I hate writing just doesn’t make any sense.

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Alon Shalev is the author of the 2013 Eric Hoffer YA Book Award winner, At The Walls of GalbriethThe First Decree,  and Ashbar – Wycaan Master Book 3 – all released by Tourmaline Books. His latest novel is Sacrificial Flame, the fourth in the series.

Shalev is also the author of three social justice-themed novels including Unwanted Heroes. He swears there is a connection. More at http://www.alonshalev.com and on Twitter (@elfwriter). Hang out with Alon on Google+

 

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Interview With An Elf

This post has been sponsored by Tourmaline Books:  Award-winning epic fantasy ebook, At The Walls Of Galbrieth @ $0.99  only until Sunday – http://wp.me/p1Xaeb-fS  – It Was 99 Cents!

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INTERVIEW WITH AN ELF

Interviewer: I would like to introduce Chamerak, an elf who appears in At The Walls Of Galbrieth, the first Wycaan Master novel by Alon Shalev.  Welcome, sir, and thank you for agreeing to the interview.

Chamerak: My pleasure. It is an honor to represent my people to receptive humans,

Interviewer: Receptive? Can you explain?

Chamerak: Once, long before you and I were born, a council that had representation from all the four races ruled the land of Odessiya. Eventually, humans broke from this coalition when they were discovered to have large colonies of slaves mining rich lands beyond our boundaries.

Most of those who were slaves then were dwarves, and the dwarves here insisted they stop. Slavery was not tolerated in Odessiya. There were the rich and the poor, to be sure, but every individual, regardless of race, had inherent rights.

Interviewer: What happened?

Chamerak: As well as large colonies of slaves, these humans had built huge armies too. There was a series of battles, culminating in one great battle. That was our most tragic moment.

The elven leaders had tried to broker between the humans and dwarves, though we were clearly on the side of the latter. Still, we had helped to find a diplomatic solution as we had for centuries since the great council had begun.

We spread our leaders too thinly and when the battles joined, our people were massacred. The humans won a decisive battle, the powers of the Emperor and his cronies were revealed. The dwarves, what were left of them, disappeared deep underground, and my people became a slave nation.

Interviewer: Literally slaves?

Chamerak: Yes. Those in the cities lived under total servitude. Others found refuge living in remoter villages, where they paid for their restricted freedom with crushing taxes that prevented them ever moving above the strain of poverty. Humans often came to have sport ­­– there were those who collected our pointed ears as trophies – or take if they wanted food or worse.

Interviewer: And all humans were like this?

Chamerak: Generally, yes. After a few generations, it became normal for them. They knew little else and were indoctrinated from birth to look down on us as an inferior race. But there were a few who were not like that.

In At The Walls Of Galbrieth, you will meet Uncle. He led a band of elves into the great forests, to live as freeborn and help other elves escape. Not long after I joined his band, we captured some humans. They did not fight us, but neither did they cower. We took them prisoners and a strange dynamic happened.

As we interrogated them, they began to ask us questions. At first, we thought it was a ruse to discover our secrets: where we hid, who our leadership was, and things like this. But they were different and we made a discovery that filled us with hope. Uncle, in his wisdom, was the first to realize this. I must admit: I wanted to execute them on the spot for just having round ears. I was young then and my life had been hard, though no different from those around me,

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Interviewer: What did this Uncle discover?

Chamerak: That not all humans were bad. That in the same way they had stereotyped us as stupid, inferior, lazy, unhygienic, etc., we too had stereotyped them as one type of human: violent, power-hungry, racist, you know.

Interviewer: What happened next?

Chamerak: Uncle invited them to join us. We kept them in a separate camp for a long time. But eventually, as trust grew between us, we became one band. Word spread of our mixed group and others sought us out. Other groups formed, including some who were committed to teaching rather than fighting.

Gradually, the old stories were told and there was an awakening of an older conscious. It is, I believe, what brought the Wycaans back into our histories, and what facilitated the coming of the Wycaan Master.

Interviewer: I have heard a lot of rumors about him. What can you tell me about­–

Chamerak: These are early days and it is better not to reveal too much. Wycaans are not just elves, but can be from any race. They can be male or female. You have made assumptions.

Interviewer: My apologies.

Chamerak: Assumptions are dangerous thoughts. They are what brought us to the racist society we live in. But there is hope.

Interviewer: How?

Chamerak: As long as the stories are being told, the narrative is being formed. It will be challenged and evolve and, hopefully, change for the better. It is the power of the books.

Interviewer: Rather fantastical, no?

Chamerak: Epically so.

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Alon Shalev is the author of the 2013 Eric Hoffer YA Book Award winner, At The Walls of Galbrieth, Wycaan Master Book 1 and The First Decree, both released by Tourmaline Books. Ashbar – Book 3 – is due for release in October 2013. Shalev is also the author of three social justice-themed novels including Unwanted Heroes. He swears there is a connection. More at http://www.alonshalev.com and on Twitter (@elfwriter).