Some thoughts about why I (and you) write. And maybe some advice. Why should you listen to me? Dunno.

To me, the natural result of reading is dreaming (and we should all be reading. Seriously, pick up a dang book), dreaming about all the things that a good story sparks in your brain. A truly great book (and subsequently, author) can completely satisfy in the way of it's own content, but at the same time, create a desperate need in the reader to experience more.

This sometimes leads to reading more books (go ahead, pick up another one dang it!), and sometimes it stays in your brain, torturing you at night as you think about that perfect little hobbit hole you just read about, or the two mile-high bridge built in the clouds from that one book.

This is the work of your imagination, something every person should be as familiar with. You should be as close to your imagination as your privates are to your underpants. Seriously, exercise it every chance you get (your imagination that is). There is something so wonderful about our ability to rise above our current surroundings and find a new world in our own brains. We are a creative species; it is only natural.

For years I would do just as I described above, lay awake at night in bed, thinking about the Redwall book I just read, thinking about running with The Long Patrol, or walking calmly through Rivendell in The Lord of the Rings. The things that came from wonderful authors such as Tolkien, Jordan, and Rowling ignited my heart and mind.

At some point you, like me, might find the day dreams too persistent (and dare I say, unfulfilling?) to simply pick up another book in an attempt to satisfy your need (sounds a little like a coke habit doesn't it? But I have a feeling that most of you know what I'm talking about). One day the itch to write down or sketch (for those of you who were wondering, yes, many writers start with a dinky little map doodled on a napkin) out an idea drives your sweaty palms to the paper (or keyboard for you who were born post 1990).

Most of us fail horribly and embarrassingly at our first attempts, as awkward as a freckle-faced ginger at his first high school dance. The words flop from our fingers like a trout that thinks it can stroll up the bank. Perhaps the travesty-on-paper survives for a day or so, or like the trout above that won't die, some may even last creepily into weeks. Don't be afraid. Bash it's head in with a stick. Go for it. Then cast your line and try to catch another. (Am I taking the trout analogy too far?)

The worst thing you can do is give up (well, worst after not starting at all). Seriously, quitting is for losers. If the first ugly step-child you put on paper isn't worth keeping, send it out for adoption and get a new kid. Start out fresh. Teach this one all the qualities you wish the  other one had. Don't be afraid to keep trying. (And no, I stopped talking about real children after the first reference. Keep your gingers, please. They are people too.)

Bottom line is this: Don't be afraid. Really. That's it. If you are smart enough to read and want more, you are smart enough to write. You won't be good at first (heavens, I was as horrible as a cherry-sized nose pimple on the first day of eighth grade, and I still have a lot to learn), but who is? Your favorite authors probably hid their first novels in a shoe box under the bed, and rightly so.

The first step is to sit down and think, "what excites me?" (Try to keep that in context. Though, if your goal is erotic slash fiction, go for  it. I suppose.) Then explore that; take your idea and step back. Examine it like a sixth grader examines the latest issue of Cosmo in the grocery line. Then begin fleshing it out. Do you have a character that won't leave your brain? How bout a kick@ss setting and magic system? Write it down!

Don't be afraid to explore. (Just make sure you practice fire safety when you burn the inhuman results of your first try.)

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