Friday, 20 September 2013

inspiraton v perspiration, the eternal conflict!

  I went to an event for trainee teachers at Oxford Brookes yesterday.  S F Said spoke after me and gave a really great talk.  He is a very engaging speaker, which isn't always the case with authors and illustrators as we spend the majority of our time locked in dark rooms stooped over some tiny document or gazing, square-eyed into the computer screen.
  One thing he talked about in particular was the notion of inspiration in making stories.  He said he wrote his first full novel in his early twenties, powering through in the 'white heat of creation', and finished it in two months.  Convinced he was a literary genius, he sent the text to publishers straight away... only to find they didn't agree.  He got first one rejection, then another but was undeterred and kept on sending it out to everyone he could find until the manuscript had been rejected forty times!  Then he decided that he was simply misunderstood and would try again with a second book.  This one he finished in a month, further evidence of his God given gifts.  He sent the story out straight away... and was rejected again... another forty times!  His pain threshold is way higher than mine.  I usually give up and go sulk in a corner after about three rejections.  Anyway, at this point most sane people would give the whole thing up as a bad job.  But he didn't.   He began to study the craft of writing, looking in particular at any material he could find by the people he most admired and aspired to emulate.  There was one word that came up all the time that he hadn't really considered before.  The word was draft.

S F Said at Oxford Brookes

  Anyway, I won't spoil the rest of what he said in case any of you get the chance to go and hear him talk.  The point is that our concept of inspiration can be very unhelpful.  I spent a number of years waiting for divine brilliance to leap into my hands and never got a fraction closer to where I wanted to be as an illustrator or a writer.  Perhaps for some people it works that way but since I turned eighteen I've had to drag myself forward by doing as much homework as I possibly can.  Things almost never turn out right first time.  In fact, despite my best efforts, most of my life is spent drawing stuff I've drawn before or writing stuff I've written before, trying to get it to that point, always just out of reach, where I imagined it could be.  

1 comment:

  1. Ha! Thanks so much for the kind words - I really enjoyed your talk too - so many great insights into the process... something I find endlessly interesting, however painful it can be!