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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Creative Writing Inspiration

Yesterday, I got to go to a book signing of my second-favorite author of all time, Brandon Sanderson, who signed my number-one favorite book trilogy of all time, Mistborn! That checked off an item on my Bucket List I forgot was even on there! (I really need to actually write down my Bucket List)
Branderson, as I will refer to him henceforth, is an epic fantasy writer renowned for his non-cliché fantasy settings and incredibly clever magic systems. I’ve read most of his mainstream adult novels, and expect to read his teen books as well. Going to his book signing was an energizing experience, because I got to have a taste of the inner mind and soul of the author I have come to admire in the past three years. Branderson is a champion writer; his passion for writing made me remember my own fiery resolve to write stories that has mainly fizzled out. He read some raw passages from his upcoming novels straight from the word processor on his laptop to us. One of the passages he had written that very day!

A couple of things I learned from Branderson last night. Number one: I think writing well is something you’re born with. Branderson said in the Q&A session before the signing that he’s a compulsive writer. He even wonders why other authors take so much time staring at blank pages waiting for inspiration. Since I could compare with this latter difficulty of writing, it sort of sank in to me that Branderson was born to write. Writing doesn’t expend energy for him; it gives him energy. Some people can practice writing, but talent is definitely a key factor in whether you’re going to actually take your writing to new levels. Far from being a pessimistic or cynical observation, this realization actually gave me some comfort and relief. Maybe, no matter how hard I try, I won’t ever be as good as Branderson. And that’s okay! I should just be grateful that such a powerful writer like him exists, that his books are written in my language and are available, and that I’m able to read at all. I should focus more on honing my own natural talents that can reach new heights, such as drawing and programming.
Lesson number two: authors are just regular people with cool achievements. As we waited for Branderson to enter the ballroom in the library, I remember looking around at all of his fans around me. Some were really old, a lot were within ten years of my own age, some were kids. Lots of men and lots of women. I remember looking at a particular, nondescript middle-aged man behind me and wondering what made him different than the man we were waiting for. He was a normal guy. He had lived at least forty years on earth. He probably ate three meals a day, had kids, had fallen in love at some point and had many interesting stories about his life. And yet he was sitting there in a chair, just as I was, not being noticed by anyone. I thought about how Branderson, when I finally saw him, would also be a human being, with childhood memories and problems and issues just like everyone else; but he had worked hard to release over twenty books for people to spend hours reading. I think that when we invest hours of our life in the work of another human being—novels, movies, books, comedy acts—it joins our soul with theirs, ever so slightly. And we look forward to seeing them in person, just to assure ourselves that they are really, truly flesh-and-blood human, and not something supernatural or holographic on a TV screen. When Branderson entered the ballroom, we cheered and clapped for the man who had helped make our sunny afternoon or rainy night that much more enjoyable, curled up with The Way of Kings or Warbreaker. He was just doing what he loved most. But we were all grateful that he had fanned his flame of passion and published his work and spread his fire of creativity so that we could all bask in its glow. Yes, he was a normal, imperfect human being, breathing and swallowing every waking moment as each one of us, but because of his accomplishments of which we were a part, we felt like we were in the presence of something just a bit more.

Lesson three: everything we invent, we figure out a way to pass time with. This is an odd sort of mini-lesson, but Branderson’s new book The Rithmatist is based on the idea of having magic in a world and using that magic for games, and Branderson explained this idea that piqued my interest. Computers were invented to help with mathematical equations and processing, and yet almost immediately after their advent came computer games. We invented writing to communicate, and yet fictional stories have been around since the beginning of time. And so it goes with weapons (dueling, archery, skeet-shooting), war (first-person shooter video games), phones (prank calls), paper (paper airplanes and tic-tac-toe), and even speech (jokes)! There must just be something about humans that makes us want to make our world into our own personal entertainment center, and we work hard at it! It’s natural for us to just brush things off and not take things seriously. I think this is a good thing, for the most part. I don’t think our world would be worth living in if it didn’t have a fun aspect to it. That’s another reason why I feel like creating and doing projects. Why do I work so hard to make my own RPG or a movie? Why does my favorite Youtuber, PeanutButterGamer, spend all day every Monday editing 10-minute movies for thousands of unknown faces? Because it’s fun!All in all, I feel lucky to have had the experience I had yesterday. It was an occasion that opened my eyes, made me see a bigger picture, and leave with physical and sentimental tokens of creativity.

"I try to err on the side of awesome."
"Too bad. It's cool."
"Everything we invent we figure out a way to waste time with it."
"The misuse of religion is the scariest thing I can think of."       – Brandon Sanderson

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