Wiswell posted some questions fielded to him by a young aspiring writer. I thought I’d take a moment to think about it too.
1. What inspired you to be a writer?
Stories and a vivid imagination. One of the first books I remember, was a story about a duck lost in the forest. I read it over and over again, and wished that all the animals could come out of the book to play with me. I’d make up games full of strange worlds and creatures. The bathtub was a time machine (you had to walk along the ledge, and spin three times inside the shower curtain), and would take us to a world full of dinosaurs, or a sea full of sharks and mer-people. My first novel attempt (I was 11?) was based on one of these games. If I could draw, I would draw out these stories, but unfortunately I can’t. Writing is the only way I have of telling the stories that that take place in my head.
2. What is love according to you?
There are many types of love, none lesser than the other (I think the west idealizes romantic love too much). When it comes to love for another person, it’s wishing the best for them, wishing them happiness, and doing the best you can to help that happen. It’s not always easy, and it doesn’t even mean you need to feel affection for someone (though that helps). When speaking of love of art or an occupation, I’d say it’s an extension of passion: always wanting to learn more, and never getting bored with it for long.
3. What are your writings to you?
Some days they’re magic. Somehow the blood, sweat, and dark dreams jotted onto those pages mingle to form something more than the sum of their parts. Other days, the same story can feel like a horror movie. I don’t know how I could have written something so awful. It really depends on my frame of mind and mood.
4. How will you define yourself as an artist?
The only philosophy I have behind my writing is to ‘be honest’ and ‘write what interests me’. There are some themes I enjoy exploring more than others, and I think I’ll define and redefine myself over time. However, when a story is loosed upon the public, it’s no longer mine. That’s the great thing about writing. When the reader engages with it, the reader brings his/her experiences and way of seeing the world to the text. Every interpretation is different. So perhaps one day (when people actually read my writing) readers will come up with their own ideas.
5. What do you think are the qualities in you which others do not have, and because of which you can write?
I think that anyone can learn to write competently if they really want to. I don’t put as much stock in talent as I do in hard work. To me, talent is simply an ability to learn faster / understand a subject a little more quickly than others. On the other hand, I do believe that there are some stories only I can write, and that’s just because no one else sees the world the same way. Every one of us has a distinct voice, personality, and a unique point of view. If you love stories, if you love books, and you’re willing to learn, you can write.
If you could go back in time and speak to your younger self, what words of encouragement or advice would you give about writing?