Writing It Down For Later

The Mad Thinker is a Marvel Comics character created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee back in the day.

The Mad Thinker is a Marvel Comics character created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee back in the day.

Inspiration is a tricky thing to describe. Kind of like trying to capture scents with a mason jar underwater.

I mean to say that one never knows when something will strike the flint and and an idea will erupt into flaming life. It’s part and parcel of being a writer that one must keep records of lots of things.

Of course one runs across so many things in the Age of the Internets. It used to be that I’d just write stuff down as I came across it when I read something else. It all starts, as these things do, in the beginning. The formative years, when we begin to realize that being an astronaut or a fireman isn’t going to be what we really want to do, is when we find something that really connects the dots. One of the first things I wrote down came from Chris Claremont, the writer of Uncanny X-Men:

“What you do not comprehend is that we are dying from the moment of birth, indeed, from the instant of conception. Creation bears within itself the seeds of its own destruction.

Our lives are finite things. We live our allotted span and are no more. Regardless of what we may do, how hard we try, the best we can hope for is a brief delay of the inevitable. It is sad. Even cruel. But it is our most fundamental reality to be faced and accepted.”

                                     –Colossus, Uncanny X-Men 165 (vol. 1)

That really affected the teenaged me. It was a point of view I hadn’t considered before. It’s something that I have referred to often despite being one of the most overwrought pieces of comic book writing ever. It’s a moment between two people and the feelings are genuine and there are true things said. It’s a philosophy.

It affected me enough to want to be a writer and to, as often as I can, tell the truth as I see it.

As I’ve become more and more a storyteller, I have collected quotes about writing that mean a lot, that keep me moving forward. The Cult of Done has been one of the biggest, most influential pieces, too. I blog about it a lot.


— Bre Pettis

But then there’s the curmudgeon Harlan Ellison who might sue anyone who quotes him. Still, this bit, from an interview conducted during the release of Dreams With Sharp Teeth (which you should watch often) over at Comic Book Resources, gave me a quote that gets me through every single day:

“You can either seek the approbation of the monkeys or you can continue to produce your art at the level at which you do it best.”

— Harlan Ellison

Since I’ve got a bum ring finger as I type this, I’m going to wrap up with my favorite quote about writing and the process of writing:

“Finish your shit.”

That’s good ol’ Chuck Wendig.

Yeah. So moving from the philosophy of Claremont’s most human character to the foul-mouthed-but-sensitive Wendig, the things that inspire me to write are pretty varied. I have a quote for just about any occasion, should I need something to pull me through a tough spot of writing.

Of course every spot of writing is tough. All those scraps of paper tacked to the bulletin board over my desk are there to distract me from the hard work and at the same time remind me that it’s hard work.

Ah, the life of a writer…

Jason Arnett is a storyteller living in Kansas and writing in the plains of the fantastic. Some of his work can be found at www.jasonarnett.com

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