What inspires you to write? Is it the words, the idea, the characters in your head? Deadlines? Competitions? A stunning first line? Wanting to earn money?
Okay, that last one is silly, forget I said it. You’d be better off getting a paper round, as everybody knows, than trying to make a career from fiction. Doesn’t stop us trying though, does it?
The reason I ask is that one of the things that inspires me to write is challenges. It can be something as simple as my son saying ‘Bet you can’t write a story about a tree’ – which led to a novella set in the New Forest and due to be published next year. Or it could be the remote and intangible possibility of something you want very much.
I recently had an essay accepted by a publication I’m half in love with. And then the editor mentioned there might be the faintest chance that I could get a bursary to go and read my essay in New York. It turned out that the week of the reading was a week I was fully committed to spending with A.L. Kennedy and Eric Gill on an Arvon course in the Scottish Highlands, so scratch one trip to the Big Apple.
And then I thought …
Maybe I could get onto next year’s reading schedule?
Of course that meant having another essay accepted, and that required writing another essay. Which I did. Which was promptly rejected. So I wrote another, which was accepted, but for 2010. So I’m working on another, and another …
And slowly it’s become a habit to try and write for them, with the side product of a second acceptance, plus an essay that was rejected which I shall try to place elsewhere. And, in the best possible way, I’ve developed a relationship with a great editor which I could never have dreamed of – just because I rose to the challenge.
Very red bento courtesy of the allotment