Writers Are Scavengers
The Inspiration for This Article
I’ve mentioned this before, but for those of you who missed it the first time, let me repeat myself.
My first novel, “The 12/59 Shuttle From Yesterday to Today,” was written as a lark. My wife, Bev, had challenged me to write a story in the style of Tom Robbins. I had never read one of his books until Bev gave me a copy of “Another Roadside Attraction,” and I was blown away by how wonderfully strange the author was while at the same time being a very interesting and fascinating writer.
I took Bev’s challenge, wrote an opening chapter, and then the story just grew from there into a full-length fantasy novel. It was great fun and it was the birth of the author known as William D. Holland.
I had the writing bug, so six months after the completion of my first novel I embarked on the second journey. This time I wanted to write in my own style, and at that time my style was full of reflection about life and the human condition. I was heavily influenced by James Lee Burke, a mystery writer who weaves stories that are filled with angst and lessons about life that we all can relate to.
The end result was “Resurrecting Tobias,” a story about a guy who just couldn’t get out of his own way and allow life to unfold as it was meant to unfold. It was a story of failure, and triumph, of monumental mistakes and adjustments, and it was ultimately about the universal truth that the most important thing in life is love.
With that novel self-published, it was time to move on to the next, and as I write this article my latest novel, “Shadows Kill,” is almost completed. This is a psychological thriller/mystery, a genre I have always enjoyed reading but never thought I was capable of writing. It is the closest of the three novels to my own actual voice and style.
There Is a Point to All of This
I am sixty-six years old. It’s been a full life. I think it’s safe to say that I’ve known thousands of people over that time. I’ve held something like twenty-five jobs; in fact, I’ve been working now since my first job, setting pins in a bowling alley, when I was fifteen. I’ve owned three businesses. I’ve played college sports, had step-children, had a son of my own, and been married twice. At one time I wanted to be a Catholic priest, a fact that still gives me a laugh from time to time.
I am a recovering alcoholic with eight years of sobriety. I’ve owned twelve homes and I’ve been homeless. I have degrees in Marketing, Economics and Education, and I was a teacher for eighteen years. Over the years I have probably read close to a thousand books, and that estimate may be low.
I have climbed mountains, hiked hundreds of miles, snow-shoed hundreds more, and fallen on my knees in awe at the splendor of life.
I am all that and more. I am the net result of sixty-six years of experiences and relationships, and I am still growing….and….borrowing.
I highly recommend this video
We Are Scavengers
Some of Tom Robbins’ style can still be seen in select articles that I write. Some of James Lee Burke can be seen as well, and some of Robert Frost, Thoreau, Lee, Steinbeck, Muir, Michener and Hemingway will also find its way into my writings.
Some of my father is there and yes, some of my mother. Some of my old friend Frank will sneak in from time to time, and some of my wife Bev can be seen if you look closely enough.
Hell, truth be told, some of the next door neighbor is there, and some of the homeless guy on the corner; some of the newborn baby two houses down is there and some of Sister Mary Charles from Second Grade; they are all in my writings, as are all of you.
I borrow but do not steal. I am influenced and yet I follow my own light.
I am a writer and as such, I am a scavenger.
I am the vulture picking over the carrion.
I am the raccoon nibbling on the road kill.
I am a liver of life, an observer of life, and as such it is only natural that life weave its way into my writing.
Do Not Fight the Process but Rather Embrace It
Writer’s block….two words that strike fear in the hearts of writers everywhere. It is the paralysis of the creative process, the slayer of free-flow and the crippler of all that is beautiful about writing. Perhaps you have experienced it, and the mere thought of it will leave your skin clammy and your fingers with a case of the yips.
If you want to avoid writer’s block, or slay it forever, then all you have to do is embrace your experiences, be open to all that is around you, and celebrate each inhale and exhale. It is just that simple.
Scavengers in nature never suffer from lack of food.
Scavengers in the writing world never suffer from lack of inspiration.
I have zero tolerance for a writer who would copy and steal the work of another writer.
I have nothing but admiration for a writer who uses the work of others as gasoline with which to spark a new idea and to serve as an aid as the search continues for his/her own identity.
How Do I Find My Voice?
I’ve heard that question often. What is your writing voice? Do you know if you even have one? If you want one, how do you find it?
Trust in the process!
Four words packed with meaning.
You are an accumulation of all that has come before you. You are a quilt with squares of your lifetime stitched together in search of a pattern. You can’t rush this process. You can only be welcoming to it. Put in your time. Continue to practice your craft. Borrow here and borrow there, and eventually all that borrowing will morph into your own voice and then magic will happen.
I do not want to be Tom Robbins? I have no desire to be the next James Lee Burke, or Thoreau, or Michener or Lee or Steinbeck.
I want to be Bill Holland, and I’m ever so close to actually meeting him for the first time.
How about you? How close are you to meeting the writer within you?
2015 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”