Today I want to revisit the past in a good way.
As you know, sometimes I ask the same question of several authors knowing their answers will be different. This week we’re revisiting a single question I’d asked of three writers in previous full-length interviews (check them out). The variations in their answers only prove what I’d always suspected–there really is no single “right” way to write. [Answer the question and see for yourself and feel free to post it here.]
THE WRITER’S JOURNEY: Does your creative process come from a place of something [unfamiliar] that scares you or from a familiar place of strength? What is that place like?
ALLISON WINN SCOTCH said:
Well, to be honest, I’ve never really thought of it in those terms, but I guess if I had to choose, I’d say a place of strength! I’m working on my third novel right now, and at this point, I have a pretty good idea of how the process works. When I was just starting out, of course, I didn’t have a clue, but I didn’t really doubt myself either. I think that this industry [publishing] can really gut your confidence…no one is really going to have your back or bolster your ego while you’re establishing yourself – so you’re the one who has to maintain your positivity. I’ve been fortunate in that I’ve never been a doubter (in just about every area of my life, which sometimes leads to TOO much optimism), but in publishing, honestly, you HAVE to have that inner strength or else you’re going to get beaten down. I tell people all the time on my blog that if you don’t have a thick skin, to try something else. And I mean it.
I WISH IT COULD BE BOTH. MAYBE ON A GOOD DAY. I OFTEN START FROM A PLACE OF STRENGTH, CONFIDENT ABOUT THE PREMISE OR SCENE. SOMETIMES THAT FALLS APART PDQ, WHICH IS SCARY AND DISAPPOINTING. MY EARLY WRITING HERO WAS GRACE PALEY, WHO SEEMED NOT TO BE AFRAID OF ANYTHING, BUT CERTAINLY TOOK ON THE BIG ISSUES. OF COURSE, SHE WAS FUNNY AND SMART. HER WORK IS BUILT ON CONVERSATION AND IDEAS AND PEOPLE. I LIKE ALL THREE. I ALSO LIKE THE GERTRUDE STEIN QUOTE: CONSIDERING HOW DANGEROUS EVERYTHING IS, NOTHING IS REALLY VERY FRIGHTENING.”
JAMES R. SPRING said:
I never stopped to recognize this before, but suddenly it’s clear. I write from a place of pain and inadequacy. I write from fears. Even the funny stuff comes from fears. My NPR stories have sometimes revolved around becoming older and less relevant to the world. And now that I have two toddlers, some of my short stories have sprung from the enormous fear associated with the possibility of losing one’s child. Sometimes I just write about a fear of being pathetic. Now that I understand this about myself, I feel very bad about it. And, thus, I’m inclined to start writing. Does anybody write from a place of strength? If so, don’t tell me.