“I love Munich, and I love being in cities with lots of other people because I’m reminded that there are billions of people like me and we are each stuck inside of our minds feverishly trying to crawl out to make connections with other people.” - John Green
My creative writing teacher from last semester recently posted on his blog that he "let life get in the way of writing."
My thoughts on that are this: How is that possible?
In my mind, writing and life are inexorably intertwined. Even if I'm not actively writing or planning a story or poem or whatever, everything that happens to me has an effect on my writing.
Here's what YA author Maureen Johnson had to say about it in her post on MFAs:
"The best material and the best method comes from life, life outside of the routine of college. Sure, stuff can happen to you in college—really weird and crazy stuff. But you’d be amazed just how SIMILAR a lot of that weird and crazy stuff is, how a lot of people will have the same stories.
Here’s a little story about ME . . . “Great!” you may say. “That’s means people will LIKE my story because it will remind them of their own experiences!” It doesn’t work that way. The key is PERSPECTIVE. You need experience and time to figure out how to frame those events, to realize what they mean in the long run. Plus, you just need MORE STUFF to happen to you outside of the confines of a campus. You need to struggle and have heartache and have to search for a job and a place to live and make important decisions. The people I saw who really excelled in the MFA program were people who had been out of school at least for a few years. Pretty much all of these people had had jobs. And some people had come from very different fields of study. The difference in the writing was incredible. I mean, even if you are writing about vampires or werewombats . . . you still need to instill your story with an underlying BIG TRUTH about love or loss. Maybe you want to write about a girl who moves to New York to make it big! Awesome! What do you know about that? Have you tried to move to a place and make it big? Have you ever moved anywhere on your own? It’s experience and perspective that give stories depth. Frankly, I don’t push MFAs on people at all. I did one, and I’m glad, but I don’t think it is what made me. And when I look around at all of my writer friends, I’m the ONLY one (that I can think of) with an MFA. They all had various kinds of experiences. John Green was a hospital chaplain. Ally Carter was an agricultural economist. David Leviathan still is an editor/publisher. Justine Larbalestier has a PhD in semiotics. Scott Westerfeld designed software. Robin Wasserman did her graduate work in scientific history. Cassie Clare worked for the National Enquirer. Meg Cabot ran a dormitory. The list goes on and on. I had loads of jobs. I was a waitress in a theme restaurant, I traveled around the country with a media company, I worked in theater, I worked with tigers and weirdos and directors who made everyone take off their pants for rehearsal, for management consultants who used incomprehensible jargon . . . and I wrote. I used a lot of what I saw. I used crazy customers. I used the worry of not being able to make the rent. I used the psychology I learned from waiting tables. I used the struggle and loss and uncertainty and excitement and wisdom . . . all from things that happened to me after I left the security of a campus and moved to a city and made it on my own.
You're supposed to "write what you know." If all you know is what you've read, and what you've written, all of your stuff will end up sounding like other people's books, and very similar to your own. So I don't think you should spend all of your time reading and writing. Both are great, and both are necessary, but there needs to be more.
This, I believe, is part of the reason the first version of Ishaera was so terrible. All I knew was other media I'd consumed. Now I'm older, and I've had more experiences, and I've read considerably more, so even when stuff combines, you can't tell because so much other stuff has been mixed in.
So this is why I don't feel bad that I haven't written anything in...a month? (I've written a song. That's about it.) I mean, I do feel a little bad (what with the "write every day" maxim that's repeated so much), but it doesn't bother me too much. I am living, and living is what is important. Both to my writing and to me.