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Thread: The Apprenticeship of a Writer

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I think my apprenticeship would have been back in my teens when I spent a lot of time erm... experimenting shall we say? I did so many unbelievable things that I thought "if I wrote this down, nobody would believe me, would make pretty good fiction" and I suppose some of it did. Then of course, a rather harder lesson was cleaning myself up again, which seemed terrible at the time, but looking back on it, it was pure comedy to anybody not directly involved. So it's mostly from some really terrible stuff that happened to me that I draw my inspiration from, the more horrific it was, the funnier it is.

For example, the infamous incident where I got so completely hammered that I woke up the next morning in a hospital. only to discover that I'd fallen off a cliff the night before turned out to be the funniest idea ever, so I have a character in one of my stories who can never remember anything he's done, he doesn't drink, but he has no idea why there's blood dripping out of his head, or he's limping or whatever. And he'll deny it if you ask him about it.

Anyhow, I don't recommend trying this method to anyone else, but the best writing comes from hard times doesn't it?
I think mine, as mentioned in another thread in here, was through spending years creating my own worlds for roleplaying. I spent a seriously large proportion of my time doing this, or actually playing the games. At the same time I was burying my head in every fantasy book I could find. I'm sure what I write now must be seriously influenced by this background.

In a way, I actually feel strange being labelled as a writer though. In my eyes I'm actually a scientist, and I was always taught (by someone who was very blinkered) that the two did not mix (maybe it just means that I'm a very poor scientist). It does give me two very separate lives, however.

For example, the infamous incident where I got so completely hammered that I woke up the next morning in a hospital. only to discover that I'd fallen off a cliff the night before
It's off topic, but Plastic's post remided me of an incident that occurred when I was a student. Myself and a friend were taking a shortcut home from a hectic nightout through the grounds of a local hospital when we decided to have a look around inside.

Anyway, we went in through this service door and were wondering about through some deserted corridors when we heard some people coming towards us. In panic, I ran away the way I had come from while my mate jumped out of an open window. To cut a long story short, I found him a little later on his hands and knees crawling away with a pair of sprained ankles. It turned out that though we hadn't gone up any stairs, we'd actually gone up several wheelchair ramps and were no longer on the ground floor when he'd made his leap for freedom.

Worse, because he daren't go back to the hospital in case they recognised him, he dragged himself around for over a week before he realised he wasn't going to get better on his own.
Well, like Val, I am not a writer in the strict sense of the word, and I am also a scientist, a biologist... But, who should be called a writer? There is a whole spectre of degrees of finding pleasure in subcreation. Some of us are what may be called "private daydreamers". They imagine things just for themselves, sometimes in a very vivid manner, it's like having his own movie being played "before the mind's eyes", but sometimes (and even often!) it is very difficult to share these experiences with others, because these images, visions, are not necessary encoded verbally. Yet others are storytellers. They are very good at telling stories which often develop while they are told and the narrator has no idea how the story will end when he starts to tell it. Yet they may be quite poor at writing these stories down. Finally, there are true writers, and among them a subclass of writers which already had the good luck to be able to publish their work. This does not mean that the writings which are refused to be published must be bad! Remember, LOTR has been published mostly because it has been prceded by a commercial success of "The Hobbit", and even the success of "The Hobbit" could not persuade the publishers to encourage the publication of "The Silmarillion!".
Now I should tell my own story but I am rather tired today so I decided to stop right now... Perhaps I'll write it another day!