Graft

I am not special. I am not a genius. My characters don’t keep me up at night, conversing, nattering, telling me their life stories. I am one of nature’s grafters, trying to compensate for my lack of natural talent with hard work and a furrowed brow.

Writing is an unusual thing. Take a glance at Twitter, or do a search for author quotes: I’m betting you’ll find in short order quotes on the lines of ‘writer’s block is when your invisible friends stop talking to you’; ‘I don’t create, I merely eavesdrop of the voices in my head’. I’ve been reading about the phenomenon of voice-hearing and it makes me rather sad that I don’t seem to have this faculty. I’m sure I used to. Somewhere in the last ten years I lost it.

I am not a beautiful and unique snowflake. I’m just a middle-aged white cisgender male who has yet to achieve anything worth singing about. I have no Muse – which is decidedly not the same as inspiration, of which I have plenty, thank you very much.

On the other hand, I have got things done. I have written seven novels, some of them worth the effort of creation. It’s been a strong contention of mine that too much attention is given to the nebulous and unexplained phenomenon that is ‘genius’ and not enough to the achievements born of submersing oneself into a field and working damn hard. I say again: I am a grafter. I’m proud of that.

All these awards for ‘best first novel’, ‘best first writer’; shouldn’t we also celebrate the most improved novelist? Can’t we tell more from a third novel than a (possibly) flash-in-the-pan debut? Can you sustain the pressure? Can you make a career out of an artform?

I’m not grumpy about this – or at least no grumpier than I am about the rest of modern life. I’m merely musing Muselessly. But I’d be very interested in your experiences. When you’re writing do you hear your characters talking to you, telling you what to write? Or do you have to poke them with sticks and lead them by the nose to get them to get off their fat asses and act?

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2 thoughts on “Graft

  1. I’ve experienced it both ways. Sometimes the characters come to me unbidden and do whatever they’re determined to do. I have one character in particular in a current story who likes to perch on my shoulder and give me advice about my own life. Quite often, however, I have to make up characters to illustrate a point and force them to fit into the parameters of the story.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Some of my characters have been born of need in the instant and have grown to be my very favourites. I guess they originate in some unknown part of me that I never knew existed. Others have to be moulded and shaped and fired. The brain is a strange beast. The trick, I guess, is to balance their forms with the needs of the plot; subtly shifting their personalities to be consistent with your needs whilst allowing them their input into the storyline. Balance. Everything is context and balance

      Liked by 1 person

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