Motivation, Your Muse, and Books

For me, this past year saw a focus on short story writing. And I’m happy to say that I did fairly well. I didn’t complete as many shorts as I wanted to, but I got two officially published and a third may find a home soon.

In 2015, I’ll be concentrating on novels. Three, in fact. Yes, a fantasy trilogy. So predictable, I know, but there it is. Wish me luck completing them, I’ll need it.

Which leads me to the topic of this post.

Sunset on the Pacific Ocean
Sunset on the Pacific Ocean

What motivates us to create?

Sometimes, I feel there is an endless line of books and short stories to read. There is so much good (even great) content out there, I can’t imagine ever consuming it all. I can spend the rest of my days simply being entertained by all of you. So, why do I feel a need to join the line?

Patterns in a rock
Patterns in a rock

Is your muse riding your back?

There are many artists that say it is not a choice. The urge to create is innate and cannot be denied. I have never really thought of myself as an artist. I have degrees in science and many describe me as a scientist. I even identify as a more clinically minded person than not. Do I have a muse? I guess so, but I’m not sure if the muse is riding my back or if I’m riding theirs.

For me, I set goals for myself. If I want the stories in my head out into the world, then I have to write them one word at a time. That takes daily dedication and planning. It doesn’t happen overnight. And toiling away for days to get a sentence or scene down on the page the way it is in my head can get awfully frustrating. At times, I just want to give up.

Seabird in the sky
Seabird in the sky

Who are you reading in 2015?

What motivates more than anything is reading great books. In 2014, I read some great fiction by Robin Hobb, Hugh Howey, Lindsay Buroker, Ches Smith, and many other unpublished writers toiling away on their masterpieces. Reading all this great fiction inspires me to attempt the same.

In 2015, in addition to writing novels, I’ll continue to read (and review when I get a chance) all the writers I admire. Check out these book lists to light your inner fire and kick your muse in the ass:

I wish you all the best in 2015.

Happy New Year.

EDIT: All pictures taken by me on or near Stinson Beach, California.

14 thoughts on “Motivation, Your Muse, and Books

  1. What gorgeous photos! And congrats on getting your stories published, and best of luck with the noveling in 2015! My only new year’s resolution is to read more, I read so little last year it shouldn’t be hard to do more. Will check out the lists you’ve linked to. Happy New Year!

  2. I don’t know exactly what it is that drives us to be creative. I would compare it, only in the vague sense, that it’s like termites having the instinct to build vast mounds for the colonies. I don’t really know if creativity is partly a result of complex intelligence or some odd trait that got passed along in the DNA: IE: the first person/hominid to make a cave painting.

    I did read an old classic by James Tiptree, “Up the Walls of the World”. It was every enjoyable, and I didn’t want to leave that beautiful alien world. I’m currently reading a collection of Philip K. Dick’s short stories.

    1. I did! I wish I had sold more of the shorts I wrote, but I’m happy that I sold any at all. Best of luck with your own writing. I’m still waiting for the rest of your California mining story. You still working on that?

  3. Will you allow me a small quibble? It bothers me that you refer to your art as “content” and yourself as a “consumer.” This, to me, is the kind of language used by predatory individuals who pass themselves off as “editors.” These phrases minimize the achievement of writing. They reduce our deeply personal and highly idiosyncratic story-telling to abanal product. A thing to buy and sell, which should be mass-produced in factories and it would be just as good.

    The goal? Get writers to stop thinking of ourselves as fine craftsmen (craftpersons?) and start thinking of ourselves as assembly-line workers who can be hired or fired for no reason and who don’t deserve to be paid well. Indeed, these “editors” would love for us to give up our hearts and souls for mass consumption WITHOUT PAYMENT. Thus the endless campaign to promote publishing as an “industry” and to keep telling writers we’re a dime a dozen and shouldn’t ask for fair compensation.

    You are an artist. You write stories and present them to an audience which experiences your story along with you. Don’t let any “editor” or “industry” browbeat you into identifying yourself as a “content provider.”

    1. Excellent quibble, Deby!

      How easy it is for corporate language to insinuate my vocabulary.

      I didn’t mean it that way. At least, I don’t think I did.

      As a writer, I should be very careful about the words I chose to use. Words have incredible power and you are right to point out that my stories are not “content” but my dreams.

      However, I don’t want to say I *don’t* consume the stories of other writers, because I do. What I mean by that is I am willing to pay my hard earned dollars for the hard work my fellow writers put out into the world. But by using that word ‘consume’, I see how that can delegate their stories akin to a product line. Not cool.

      Whether that all made sense or not, what I’m trying to say is that you are right about the words I chose to convey my ideas. I read so much about writing and the writing “industry” from a variety of sources that I forget that some may have agendas that I might not necessarily agree with.

      Also, like I said, words have power. How many times have we heard the term ‘man up’ or ‘you’re acting like a girl’, as if to meet one’s challenges you can only be a man or if you are complaining or weak, then that’s girlish (i.e., negative). I need to take care to weed out sexist/corporate/racist language. Thanks for pointing it out.

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