Writing at one’s pleasure. Anyway, that’s a rough translation of the Latin there. I make no claims to Latin scholarship, but I’d looked up the phrase after seeing it in a paper (rats were given food and water ad libitum) and it struck me that it’s a bit how I used to write. Used to.
Before I went pro with my writing, I’d write when a story struck me, and as a consequence, I have files (or had files, many have been lost or discarded) upon files of snips and scraps of tales that I wrote down simply to amuse myself. Writing ad libitum, as it were. Deciding that I was going to make a more professional tack with the writing took away from the ‘at my pleasure’ but it produced more polished, and egads! Actual finished work. Read more
You are shaped by the company you keep, I was trying to explain to my son recently. He’d been watching a Youtuber known for vulgarity and disrespect. Find someone more wholesome, I told my boy, because even though you think he won’t, this guy will live in your head and that’s not who I want you to be.
My son doesn’t really know it yet, but whether you absorb the ‘person’ through reading, watching, or just hanging out, you are influenced by those you keep company with. I know that happens to me when I’m writing – my voice on paper changes if I have been reading someone with a strong voice. Unconsciously, I choose words and sentence structures more like what’s been in my head most recently. Since I’m aware of this, I can control it by not reading, say, Mickey Spillane while I’m trying to write something that isn’t gritty and noir. Read more
I would argue that to be a good writer, you need only to understand the human psyche. To be a great writer, you must delve more deeply into the interactions of humans, social and otherwise, than most people think possible. Not, necessarily, to psychoanalyze people – I have issues with psychology as a science, hence the title – but to truly understand what makes them tick, and to be able to predict what they will do faced with a given situation. Only that reaction isn’t going to be the same from person to person. One will freeze and be unable to react when the sound of gunfire rings out. Others will run toward it, knowing lives are at stake and even if they must lay down their life, they must respond in times of crisis. As a writer, one of these is the hero, the other the forlorn sidekick – not the antagonist. The antagonist is not a yellow-bellied white-feathered coward, and it would be a mistake to write him so. Read more
I’m sitting here having a small crisis. See, I’m feeling like maybe I don’t really belong here, writing for writers. Why? Because I’m a part-time writer. And recently, that’s been very, very part-time.
It’s been my choice, overall. Choices, rather. I have chosen to pursue a career that is not-writing. It’s not that I don’t love writing, or that I don’t think I could support myself doing that (although I have suspicions about being able to support my family, but that’s a whole different thing, and quite possibly connected back to this feeling of being an imposter in some way). It’s simply that I love science, and being a scientist, and I have been reaching life-goals this past year. However, in doing that, I’ve not been focusing on writing. You know that phenomenon where you see what you’re focusing on? The Baader-Meinhof phenomenon? Yeah, that one. The one where I’ve been focusing on being a mother, and a scientist, and recently a home-buyer and even though all those things provide fodder for the writing, today I have no brain for writing. Read more