John Marshall Davis: Writing is Not a Hobby, It’s a Way of Life

Welcome to Writer Wednesdays!  Each week, geeky writers and authors will be sharing with us about their latest works, a favorite author, a favorite or recent book they’ve read, someone/thing that has inspired them, or the writing/publishing/promoting process that is an author’s life.  Our first guest blogger is John Marshall Davis, a fellow Charlotte Geek, who is currently working on his series, Relics of Earth.

If you are like me, you have wanted to write a novel for as long as you can remember. Perhaps you have not been a proper devotee of the craft. I know I haven’t. Developing ideas in my head has always come to me naturally. Bringing them forth onto paper, however, has been a different story. Over the years I have developed many excuses to keep myself from writing. I would rather read a book, watch a movie, play a video game, or vacuum the floor. Okay, perhaps not that last one. Only if I am writing an academic paper does the thought of domestic chores trump any desire to write. I also worry that if I actually write stuff down, it will look stupid and my dreams of being a writer will be crushed. Better to keep them in limbo and maintain the delusion, right? You may wonder why this guy is rambling on about his inability to write. Well, I think I have found the secret to writing.

In school I learned about the Muses, Greek goddesses who were responsible for giving men and women their inspiration in life. With the passing of time, we become less inclined to give credit to deities for what goes on in our world. I have to admit to using the term “muse” for that compulsion to write that comes over me at times. When I am in the writing zone, I really have no idea where the story is going. In those moments, I am just as much a member of the audience as any reader of mine will be once the piece is finished. It honestly feels as though someone else is in the driver’s seat. I never truly understood where the idea of a muse came from until I began to take my own writing seriously.

I took several writing courses in college. For the first time in my life, I was required to share what I had written with others. I learned to accept criticism for what had, up to that time, been my secret creations. Your writing is like your baby. I have no children, but I like to compare writing to the childbearing process. Your ideas gestate for a time in your mind until they are ready to be born into print. The birthing process can be difficult, and at times almost painful. Once you can see the material written out there in front of you, the time has come to make corrections and shape your writing into something wonderful, much like parents who love and raise their children to become good people. When I first presented my material for others to critique, I had to overcome the instinct to shelter my work and defend it as though it was above criticism. Overly protective parents can behave the same way toward their offspring. So, a goddess gives you an idea, and you carry it to term until it is ready to be born.

I spent way too many years of my life putting off the writing of anything serious or lengthy. I had only been married for five months when National Novel Writing Month rolled around once again. Several times before I had tried it and not gotten very far. This time it was different.  I certainly didn’t meet my goal, but I did finally get rolling on a science fiction project that managed to outlive the one month marathon. I suppose that is the real goal of NaNoWriMo: to overcome the usual excuses and get busy writing. For the first time in my adult life, I was writing with passion and a drive to succeed. This project became known as Relics of Earth. This was the first time I felt the muse whispering in my ear, and when I heeded her call, there was nothing I could do to stop from writing. What was different this time? I believe married life cut out all distractions and showed me what real writing was all about.

Two months later, my marriage collapsed, and the last thing I wanted to do was to write. I never gave up on my desire, though I could hardly focus on any one thing for long. Writing nearly always took a backseat to being angry, stressed out, or just plain depressed. People tell you that writing can be therapeutic. I suppose so, if it were a mere hobby. My thoughts and feelings were all scrambled up inside me: an ocean of noise and chaos. My muse could not reach me. It was not until recently that I have been able to put myself back together enough to listen to her again. After nearly four months of recovery, I’m ready to commit to the one thing in my life that I know will never turn on me.

I’m still a budding writer, without a single published novel to my name. I can say with certainty, however, that writing must be central to your life, or you will not go far. You may have plans of what you want to write, but don’t hesitate to drop everything to pursue a new idea. Your muse has her own agenda. Learn to follow it. She will come to you during the day, and at night, while you sleep. You don’t have to believe that she exists in the same way that you and I do. However, if I meet her after I die, I won’t be too upset to find out that she is real.

For more information on John Marshall Davis, visit his website at http://www.johnmarshalldavis.com. For more information on Relics of Earth, check out the website at http://www.relicsofearth.com or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/RelicsOfEarth.

Next Wednesday:  Eden Royce on “The Writing Process: Is It Different for Geeks?”

1 Comment

  1. I do have children, and I’ve thought the same thing — writing is very much like childbirth. Especially a novel, which takes so much time. And, as with children, we have to remember that we may have created them, pieced them together with parts of ourselves, but they take on a life of their own. 🙂

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