When learning to write the number 1 tip you will probably hear is "read, and read a lot". You'll find no true disagreement here, but at first it had me scratching my head. I do read a lot, maybe not a huge variety and maybe not as much as others, but I'm quite sure that I'm considered quite well-read for my age. With that in mind, does that mean I've fulfilled the requirement of reading a lot to be a writer? Of course not, even if I've read a lot I haven't read nearly enough. You can never read enough. That isn't the only reason though. Those books I used to read were read for enjoyment, and not for the intent if learning.
This weekend I read Isaac Asimov's "Foundation and Empire". I read the first one as a guy enjoying a story, but this time I read as a writer. This little difference, which had little effect on the actual process of reading, actually had a difference in the effect of reading. By reading with the intent to learn I was able to recognize the elements of Asimov's writing that made his story so compelling. Now I don't only know that I like Asimov, but I know why I do.
So when someone tells a writer they need to read, they need to know that just reading isn't enough. Reading with intent is how we learn.
It has taken me years of wanting to write, but today, or more like late last night, I finished my first short story. I've written half stories, I've dreamed of many amazing fantasies, but never have I actually finished a story. So, I'm most definitely proud of myself in a way. I don't actually consider this story finished, it was really just meant to be the first scene of a larger story, but than I decided that I really liked that part, I cleaned it up and now, while still usable in a larger setting, I have what I believe is a decent little short story that can stand alone.
My first real attempt at a short story that I wrote about several weeks ago was going to be about a man who was offered money to kill someone he didn't know. It wasn't exciting for me, so I can't imagine it exciting readers. This new one, I'm calling it "The Dream" for now, is about a young squire who is pretty much suffering from PTS. I wanted to avoid fantasy, its so full of cliches and often feels immature, but fantasy was what turned me into the avid reader I am today, and when I first wanted to write, even as a very young child, it was fantasy that had my imagination. So, writing a fantasy story is sort of like going back to my roots as a lover of words, and I feel a great way for me to get my writing off the ground.
If you can't tell, I'm excited to have finally finished something. Do I think its utterly amazing? Do I believe its an original idea lacking cliches? Am I ready to start pumping out publishable masterpieces? No, but I'm still proud of it because it shows me that if I really sit down and write I could get something interesting done. Plus, I like the character.
Well, I'm about 1/4 of the way through the first draft of my short story, its going along just fine and I'm enjoying it. It'll still be awhile before I'm ready to post it here though. So, I figured I'll discuss something new today.
Every night, in my attempts to lose weight, I like to go for a 3 mile walk. This is great for me as an aspiring writer as it gives me a chance to think and come up with ideas for what to write about, it also just allows me to come up with some strange ideas and questions to ponder. The short story that I'm working on is actually based on one of these ideas that I think we've all thought about at certain points in our lives.
I consider myself a decently moral person, I don't go around sleeping with any woman I can, I've never stolen anything and I hate hurting people. So not to toot my own horn, but I'm pretty sure I'm a good person. Yet, I can't help but wonder if I really am moral on the inside, or if its just situational morality. I mean, perhaps the only reason I'm "moral" is because its the easy route. Maybe I don't steal because from a cost-benefit analysis I'm more scared of getting in trouble than whatever the potential stolen item is worth to me. Maybe I don't sleep around because I'm not attractive enough to pick up tons of women. I can tell you that to an extent these are true, I don't want to get arrested and I'm not very good with women. I actually admit that the only reason I follow laws are out of a fear of consequence, but this is due to me being an anarchist. I don't acknowledge state laws as having any authority over me, they have force and that is it. So the question of whether or not I'm a moral person is difficult.
I think that the only way to tell if someone is moral is to put them in a situation that truly tests their morals. If you tell someone, "There's a thousand dollars sitting in that open register, and nobody will ever know if you take it," will they take it? Yes, we have those guys that give a cashier money back if they give them the wrong change, but that's nothing, 10 or 15 dollars. What if we put them in a situation where they could truly gain a lot from going against their morals, without suffering any consequences? I like to think that I would rise above the temptation and not do it, but if the reward is great enough I can't deny that I might give in.
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