In the past, in an effort to explore the world around me, I’ve taken courses in sewing, bicycle maintenance, and basic automotives. I’m a certified scuba diver. I’ve done years of martial arts, and I’ve gone to beauty classes to learn the best way to do my own home waxing.
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For all that I admired the work of my friend who patiently helped me make a pair of trousers I had neither the perseverance nor passion to build that skill. Home waxing was messy and not immediately successful so I abandoned that within a few months. I skipped out of the automotive class at the first coffee break.
Writing is one of the few exceptions to my fickle dabbling. Since I started it seriously, my interest hasn’t waned or flagged. It’s not something I pick up and put down. It’s part of breathing, even on the worst days.
In the end I guess I’ve adopted Thoreau’s approach: Do what you love. Know your own bone; gnaw at it, bury it, unearth it, and gnaw it still.
From there, unknowingly, I followed the lead of Tracy Chevalier: Don't write about what you know—write about what you're interested in.
I shape worlds around subjects that I love which makes sculpting characters within them much easier. In doing so, I find resolutions to questions I didn’t even know I wanted answers to.
Through all of this, I ignore the phantom voice that sometimes sings out that I can’t do it, that my words aren’t worth reading. Determination trumps self sabotage and I get back to the job at hand. Doing what I love can sometimes be stressful but not going where my heart takes me, would condemn me to life of tinkering in one long automotives course.
How do you pick the subjects for your novels? Does love of the craft bring you back to the story even when you are half-paralyzed with self doubt?
Picture from Wikimedia Commons