Writing is not a Spectator Sport

TolkienAudienceMost non-writers just don’t get it.

The myths and misunderstandings around the creative process continue to amaze me. Those who do not create seem to believe that a story—be it a novel, novella, or short story—simply blossoms forth from the writer’s mind as fast as they can type.

Once the last word is written, and the final period typed, that’s all there is to it. Well, except for actually shipping it off to some publisher for consideration. (There’s also this notion that it goes directly from the writer to the publisher. Because, of course, what person in their right mind would spend hours, or even weeks, writing something that didn’t already have a guaranteed paycheck attached to it. But that’s a whole other discussion for another time.)

Yes, I know that Harlan Ellison wrote stories in bookstore windows. I don’t think that’s for everyone, as least not for most of the writers I know. Most of us crave the peace and quiet, the time alone with our own thoughts, the stillness that allows us to clearly hear the voices of our characters within our heads.

It is not an opportunity for you to watch over our shoulders while words appear on the screen and ask questions. Although, I have to admit, it is kind of fun to watch that shine of unsettled amazement in your eyes as you shake your head and walk away. I can hear you wondering from what dark source within us the words and ideas seem to magically come.

Keep wondering.

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