Snuffleupagus in the Room

Shhhhhh. No sudden movements. It can’t see us yet. Let’s ignore it and hopefully it will go away.

Finally the chair swivels in a dramatic fashion to once more face the crowd. Sitting upon it is a rather disheveled and haggard looking me (even more so than usual). My sleep was so rudely interrupted at an ungodly hour this morning with the ideas for this blog. Gah.

I scoot the chair closer to the crowd and whisper conspiratorially.

I’ll let you in on a little secret. I’m a thief.

“Oh no!” come the crazed gasps as there is much wailing and gnashing of teeth by the more excitable members of my imaginary audience.

“How can you be a thief, a writer and a Captain of Chickens?” queries one of the more astute members (dressed for the sake of jocularity as Sherlock Holmes).

Elementary my imaginary friend. You said it yourself, I am a writer. To be clear when I say a thief I don’t mean I’m a plagiarist because plagiarism is bad.

What I mean is that I steal inspiration and ideas. I read somewhere that writers tend to write about what they know. I think it’s a bit different from that statement. I steal what I know. Using skullduggery and treachery, I liberate inspiration from things around me, often with no consent. I offer no contract, no remuneration and only a little acknowledgement (which usually takes the form of me cackling about it later). Events from history are no safer from my pen than anyone who happens to be unfortunate enough to be called my friend.

I take personalities, places, thoughts ideas and inspiration from what I see and what I experience. Now the end products are not carbon copies, but if you scratch deep enough and understand the feverish workings of my mind (good for you, I still haven’t mastered that particular talent yet) you can find from whence the ideas came.

Another place from which inspiration is thieved from is whatever book I am reading. This was a shocking insight for me when I realized this: writing stems from reading. Soak that in for a moment. I’ll wait.

If I read a book about a dystopian universe in which everyone’s life sucks and everything is horrible then those themes creep into my writing. If I read a book about courtly intrigue and medieval politics then suddenly whatever I’m writing turns into a convoluted mess of nobles vying for power. If I read about a dystopian universe full of courtly intrigue and medieval politics then god help us all.

It was a strange thing for me to realize. I started noticing that when I was reading a particularly good book, that I wanted to create not just consume. I wanted to add to the author’s work (not that I thought I could better their writing). Reading it was not enough for me. I needed to feed my addiction. I needed more.

I took themes and ideas, not concrete characters and worlds and built scenes out of them. Usually in my head, but sometimes fingers would go click-clacking on the keyboard.

I’d tried emulating and now it was time for me to synthesize all those years of reading and admiration. It was time to build something. To create rather than to consume.


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