People come up to me all the time and ask: “Jim, how did you get so good at writing?”
Which people? Mostly ESL. But still, the question needs answering.
My father would always tell me “Never trust a Spaniard”. Additionally he’d say “Damnit James, you’re 18 years old, it’s time you learned to read.”
So when I enrolled at Northwestern (State Community College) I went up to my professor and said “teach me to read.” So he invited me to his house, gave me a few beers, put on a porno and removed my pants. Afterwords, he took out a book. It was Hemingway’s “To Have and Have Not”. I instantly fell in love with literature and I’ve been reading and writing ever since.
“But what do you do about writer’s block?”
Easy. For most writers, the solution is usually a bottle of scotch. But a couple of quaaludes don’t hurt either.
“Are there any writing exercises that you can do?”
Hmm. Good question.
I can’t think of any. Usually the only exercise I do is get in my car, go to the local truck stop, and ask if any truckers need “company”.
But every individual is different, and you have to go out into the world and find what gets your creative juices flowing.
“Are there any writers you turn to to find inspiration?”
Like I said, everyone’s different. You can find inspiration almost anywhere. Bathroom graffiti, for example. Call up some of the numbers, see where it goes. But whatever you do, never call a number from the bathroom stall at your local library . That’s definitely an undercover cop.
“Are some people just born to be writers?”
Ya know, probably.
I spent years in the Navy being a seaman. I was just no good at being a seaman. I’d often be reprimanded for various things like lurking in the showers, taking payments for special “favors”, etc. It was all bullshit. I just wasn’t suited for military life.
But don’t let that stop you from following your dreams. Some people may “judge” you, saying “that goes against the nature order of things”. Maybe your ex-wife might say “James, I hope someday you find someone that will satisfy you and will be happy together. I am leaving you.”
But never give up. Keep trying.
Never lose hope.