”The Writing Bug” – 52 Pickup, Week 3

Question #3

Stephanie Gilbert: “How did you first get into writing? I enjoyed the series, fell in love with the books and now have the urge to write down the stories whirling around in my own head. Not sure if anyone besides me will ever read them, but I enjoy writing them so that’s okay. Thanks for helping me find my passion for reading again and for finding a new passion in writing.”

I come from a family of story tellers and realized at an early age that it was a valuable ability to have, and one I didn’t. I was the worst story teller in my family but I was always amazed at the way, especially my Mother, could hold people mesmerized with that ability. I figured that if I couldn’t tell stories that maybe I could write them down, so I tried it and it seemed to work for me.

My education was in writing, but I never let that get in the way of becoming a writer… I know that sounds funny, but there’s a kernel of truth to the statement in that a lot of disciplines have given up on the idea of story and I think that’s a mistake. No matter what the venue, people are hard-wired at an early age to enjoy a story that has a plot or conveys a message—that has a beginning, a middle and an end.

The thing I always say is that there are only two reasons you become a writer and the first one is running out of excuses. I’d bought the land here in Ucross (population 25) and got the first part of the ranch built, a little 24X32 log cabin and finally sat down and began writing The Cold Dish, the first book in the Walt Longmire series. That’s when the second reason to write came into play—you need a story, something that hasn’t been done before, something that you feel passionate about, something that has a message.

Writing is a lot like being a gambler at a horse race, you’re going to have to give that horse you’re betting on a good going-over to see if it’ll go the distance. It’s the same thing with the idea of a novel if that’s what you’re attempting to write. A novel can take anywhere from six months to a lifetime, so you better pick a good one, one that can go the distance. Now, that’s not to say that a story idea has to be a three or four-hundred-page idea—it can be a short story idea, a novella or just about anything.

It takes a lot of courage to take up a challenge like writing without the bonifides of an agent, a publisher or anything else but the important thing is to sit in that chair and get going—ride that horse, write well. That’s the only way anything gets done.

— Craig Johnson.

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