At some point or other, every writer (and I don’t mean just the professionally paid writers who sign book deals and all that stuff; I’ve always included anyone who likes to put pen to paper to tell stories because that’s all it takes to be a writer, isn’t it? When you say “I’m a writer”, that’s not a state of being like saying “I’m a politician” or “I’m a vampire” which are consequently the same thing, but instead when you declare yourself a writer you’re denoting a verb to yourself; because to be a writer means you write, and it has no bearing on monetary gains. So please know, this is for the paid and the unpaid writers, because we’re all the same) has done it.
Especially, in this day and age.
Most writers do it, maybe once a month. Some go a little longer in between doing it.
Hell, Caleb James does it probably no less than three or four times a week, and often while he’s still at work!
And, personally, I think it’s completely understandable, and almost a necessity in this day and age; so much so that every writer should do it. Hell, open another tab on your browser and do it now.
Open up YouTube and type “[insert author’s name here] interview”. It can be anyone you want, though it helps if they were alive within the last seventy years. Tolkien, Rowling, Wallace, Oates, Gaiman: there are countless videos about each of them, and several speeches and interviews with each one that are sure to enthrall and suck the minutes away from your day.
And by no means is that a bad thing.
No, this article isn’t about cutting down on your digital obsessions. That topic was covered already. This is about, frankly, giving you a figurative slap on the back, a high five, a fist bump, a slap on the ass (that’s Spencer’s preferred form of greeting, be warned), a thumbs up, and a gold star sticker to put on your shirt. Because the fact that you’re interested in, and looking up, authors whom you look up to is a really freaking good idea. And why is it a good idea? Because we’re all human, and since we’re all human we tend to pay attention to things that we find interesting and tune out what doesn’t fondle our brains.
Paying attention to what, or whom, you find interesting and taking the time to mull over what they say and really think over the advice or the wisdom they orate in their interviews and speeches and letting it sink in so much so that it provokes change—either in line with or against what the writer said—within us and then allowing that change to inspire action; that sort of thing is what separates the hungry, striving, developing, discontented, self-aware, self-conscious, ambitious, salivating, self-motivated writer from the hack.
Writers are people.
Successful writers are still people. They just tend to have more money than most of us. Sometimes.
But, insofar as I’ve seen, very few modern-day authors have ever just started at the top, with agents waiting around for their manuscripts and enjoying the privilege of having their words published without a single moment of doubt as to whether they’ll make it.
Nah, screw that guy. What kind of imagination does it take to be miserable with all that money and opportunity? Nah, it’s the experiences that come from living in harsher times, in harder places, working crappy jobs, dealing with horrible family/friend drama, being the first to feel the results of whatever political figure just passed in the guise of helping folks in your position (hint: it’s not going to help).
And when you watch these interviews and speeches from famous writers you look up to, it’s actually kind of a breath of fresh air, a refreshing wave of validation that “Hey, So-And-So gets me.” Because if they lived what you went through, or worse, and they came out the other side and they were able to chase their dreams and they were able to make it happen no matter the sacrifice, then hell, so can we. Right?
Cause authors are people. And with the exception of Zuckerberg, we’re all people too.
So, please keep watching those interviews. Keep learning from speeches given by your literary heroes. Not only will it provide some insight and nuggets of wisdom that you can probably apply to your own writing or writing schedule, but it’ll also give you a chance to be inspired; to learn more about people you hold in high regard. And let me be clear: the more you learn about fellow writers, the less rosy your glasses will become. But that’s not a bad thing. Knowing that these folks had to work for what they got should excite and motivate you, should push you along, should give you another shove forward and a shock to the system.
These authors conquered the seemingly impossible task of becoming published.
And that’s awesome.
Because writers are people. Just like you.
Here are a few links to some of my favourite interviews. If you’d like to share more, include the links in the comments below!