Come close fellow writer. I have truths to tell and there are questions you must answer. If we aren’t honest with each other now, we might not get another chance. We have until midnight and the clock is ticking.
First, I must ask you why you’re here. Why does your painstaking heart pour onto the page? Why do your fingers tap, tap, tap on keys that click and clack? What’s in it for you?
This question needs consideration and I’ve sprung it upon you, so I’ll start by telling you my secret.
It’s the love of language. Letters with no meaning of their own join to form words far greater than the sum of their parts. Glue binds them, but allows them to be free. When they are young, they are a white canvas brimming with potential. When they are old, they hold wisdom far deeper than you ever imagined. They are like you and me.
It's the song of a story. An adventure, a quest. With the whole world to explore where should a bold hero go next? Perhaps she’s a detective, watching bodies pile high. Or perchance a widow, praying to the sky? And if the sky’s the limit, then what is beyond? A destination, a journey, let’s follow along.
It’s the connection causeway. Through this pale, blue light shining on your face, you can see me. I am here, running through the electric pulses in your brain. My mind is in yours; we travel together. If we bond canonically, we bond forever. When I read you, I understand you. You dropped a drip of your soul into the ink of your pen. So I picked it up, took it home and put it in pride of place on my memory shelf.
And sometimes it’s desire. A desire to be heard, to scream to the world. You’re cruel, you’re flawed, you’re not what I thought you would be. If I could remake you, what would I do? I’d take longer than seven days that’s for sure. A desire for glory, for history and humanity, for myth and legend. To add my needle to the haystack and hope it does not topple the whole damn mess.
You’ve had time to think, can you give me an answer? I hope so, as we have more to cover. Tick-tock, my friend, tick-tock.
Second, I must hear your idea. You’ve spent an age mulling it over. Where did it come from? The universe asks. I ask it too.
The answer, on the surface, is simple; it came from you. From your very beginning, at your very core, and all of the pieces that made you. Each decision that passed through your head, each opinion that gave birth to another. They entangled, entwined, eloped and opined and spat out what you see before you.
Now you must push your idea forward. It’s a tenuous notion, and brittle. If you speak it too loud it might break. If you speak it too quiet it might fade and be lost. You must grasp it with both hands. But how to grasp a thing that swirls in the air, that squirms like a cat on the run?
It needs flesh. At the moment it’s a mere silhouette. Is it a tormented spirit whose scars run deep; will they win the war with themselves? An unlucky romantic, caught off-guard, will he find what he knew all along? Or is it more cerebral, perhaps a posited future with plucky remarks on the world we live in today?
Whatever it is you must breathe your lifeblood into it, for you, my friend, are a writer.
Third, I must give you a warning. You and I, we live in our heads. We wander the hallways of daydreams, we stalk the corridors of nightmares, we tread the line of madness. If you’re not careful you’ll see more of me than you expected.
To get lost in passages of you, is a circle, a circle, and none of it true. Spend too much time there and you’ll find out you’re alone. No connection, just reflection. A world filled with you in every mirror, and in the face of everyone you meet.
And so, you reach for what’s real. In reality there are colours you see: the reds, the golds, the greens. There are also colours in hiding, colours you could never imagine in dreams. Unless you know, unless you’ve lived, unless you’ve experienced ultra-violet lightning. If every idea is built from you, then the quest’s to expand your definition. To write is to live and, more importantly, to listen.
Now we’ve covered the premise, it’s time for the meat. It’s time to discuss your technique. Oh what’s that? You’ve gone vegetarian? It’s ok, we all have those days where we want to cry, now is not the time to be shy.
The ingredients are all waiting for you eagerly in the pantry, and you, the chef, are tasked with creating a delicious dish. It must contain the following: a crisp base of plot on which to spread your sauce. You should feel the snap between your teeth. A creamy sauce of setting, so rich and smooth, you may want to take a dip. A dollop of character arc, a twist of foreshadowing, and finally, an acquired taste - a dash of killing your darlings.
Will it smell of heaven? Will it light my thoughts on fire? I want to know; I keenly await your concoction. Too long and all your work will burn, too short and you’ll soon learn that in cooking the time is crucial, but it too easily slips through your fingers.
Would you look at that. Our time is up. Midnight is now. All too short, but I’m afraid I must leave you. Is that relief I sense? You mean you didn’t want to practise the present tense? Well then, I must warn you there is still work to do, but from here on out, it’s over to you.