The Spark of a Writer

From Jeff: This is a guest post by Paul Angone. Paul is an author, speaker, story-teller and host of AllGroanUp.com — a website for those in between “growing” and “grown.” His debut book Are You My Life? is scheduled to debut Spring 2012. Find Paul on Twitter: @PaulAngone.

Alone. It’s your cup of choice.

Later, others will be involved. Much later. When there is something to see. When the ambers start glowing.

But not now.

Alone. You create a conversation. To make the intangible, tangible.

It’s your life. Word after word after word. Hoping something catches fire. Match after match — lit, but not lighting.

Spark of a Writer
Photo credit: Andrew Stawarz (Creative Commons)

You have to ask questions that no one will ask. You have to see what no else sees. You have to risk comfort, to define uncomfortable.

You have to skin your knees. Even when everyone is standing tall. You have to get on your tippy-toes, while everyone’s taking cover. You have to go there, not even knowing where there is.

You have to write and write and write. Only to delete and delete and delete.

Writing progress is not in pages.

It comes in sparks.

Each match that burns. Each word that falls flat. Taking you closer to that sentence that smolders. To the paragraph that catches. The page people will gather around.

That piece changes the atmosphere. In you. And in those who see its light.

Because they’ve felt the same fire. They’ve had the same thirst.

As a writer you hold out a glass of water.

Your fingers burnt and blistered. Hiding in pockets. Only you will ever know.

Hundreds of used matches — useless.

But one catches fire.

What writing “sparks” have you experienced? What spurs you on?

*Photo credit: Andrew Stawarz (Creative Commons)

33 thoughts on “The Spark of a Writer

  1. Jeff,
    This post was amazing. Very symbolic for everything we experience and share of ourselves in life. As far as writing goes, I only tell stories. When I can relate to the character (an ancestor) somehow and can share those feelings with my readers it’s such a good place to be! 
    Another time I felt the urge to write about the day my sister died on my other blog). It was uncomfortable to expose who I really am, but it was important to tell it the way it really happened. How the events and feelings unfolded. And if even one other is touched by it I’m rewarded. THAT’S what fuels me. First it’s for me. Then for one other person.
    Thanks for the thought.

    1. That spark it glowing for me now as I look back at stories I first created back in the 80’s but they never went past writing the first draft.

  2. I’m glad I’m not alone in thinking this way. It’s difficult to pull an emotion out of your readers when you first have to pull it out of yourself. Often, the finished product is not what it was when it started. ‘Uncomfortable’ and ‘delete’ must be mutual acquaintances of ours—I’ve come to know and respect them well in these last few weeks!

  3. I love the dramatic flare of the spark and the flame. Personally, I’m no longer a fan of the individual fire and I’ve moved over to a new model of collaborative writing where the sparks come more frequently and blaze brightly when they catch. As a solo writer I usually felt like a wet matchbook, but as part of a collaborative, the flames catch more like dominoes falling steady one after the next. Though what is left after the process is not merely ash to be thrown away or tucked into a closet; it’s a newly formed Phoenix to be brought into the world and celebrated.

  4. I love it when the ideas and words and phrases start popping. That’s one of the things that spurs me on. Another is hearing from readers who tell me they love my writing or have been blessed or impacted by it in some way. If that’s not fuel to keep going, I don’t know what is.

  5. “You have to write and write and write. Only to delete and delete and delete.” Deleting is the hardest part for me…after actually STARTING to write, which is an even greater stumbling block these days than usual. Hoping your “spark” will catch flame here. Thanks.

    Cyndi

  6. You captured the writing process beautifully here, Paul. Every time I write, there are a lot of discarded, burnt matches – which makes the one that actually sparks worth while.

  7. This was pretty poetic.  

    Lots of useless matches is right.
    I’m not sure if this is what you’re asking, but…

    Last week, I launched a monthly writing challenge on my blog.  It was scary to do because I didn’t know if people would receive the prompt well… if anyone would participate and write.

    But, it turned out well and people have started posting-  I guess the topic DID spark enough interest for people to write.  

    However, what REALLY sparked something in me, was reading what others wrote.  I encouraged someone to post for the first time on their blog and that made my day.

    My POINT is that while feeling the spark on my own while I write is nice… it’s more rewarding when it affects another person.

    Wonderful post, Paul.

  8. “It comes in sparks.
    Each match that burns. Each word that falls flat. Taking you closer to that sentence that smolders. To the paragraph that catches. The page people will gather around.
    That piece changes the atmosphere. In you. And in those who see its light.
    Because they’ve felt the same fire. They’ve had the same thirst.”

    One spark, and it will be worth it.

  9. Wow.  You just captured the whole ugly beautiful process.   The rabbit trails seem endless sometimes.  “You have to go there, not even knowing where there is.”    So, I am  NOT crazy.  This is a relief.    Thanks.

    1. Ha! Definitely not crazy. If you’ve never written and wondered, “Am I crazy??” then you’re probably not writing anything worth reading. My opinion, at least. Gosh, am I crazy for thinking this?? 

  10. A famous artist’s friend came over to his studio one time and said of a piece, “That’s hideous. That is truly terrible. Why did you make that piece of crap?” Sheepishly, the artist said, “I don’t know. I just make whatever comes into my head. I don’t know if it’s GOOD or not!”

    That story and this post ring true for my experience. Every once in a while you create something great. Most of the time what you create is average to mediocre. Thanks Paul.

  11. I sometimes am afraid and obsess over word choice.  I think the right word will flow into every other word, building brilliant paragraphs and filling pages, but I fear the wrong word will stop everything, or lead it all down the wrong path.  Thanks for this man.   I totally relate. 

  12. I had a spark once when I was writing my second novel titled Rosa Parks. I was at the movies, staring at a poster for some upcoming movie. I was so mesmerized by it and then the spark came and I knew I had a story born.

Comments are closed.