I am a Writer. Or something.

I am a writer. I have published a few novels of science fiction and fantasy, though sometimes it’s not easy to tell them apart. And a few stories, some collected. And some non-fiction, in which I have little further interest.

I also have run workshops at SF conventions, where I try to help people learn about writing, about how to get started, how to structure a whole story (or at least one way to do it), and what they have done well and where they can improve.

I talk to people about the things I have learned about writing, particuarly about writing fiction, and about what I am still learning. Almost everything I know has been learned through personal experience, mostly by doing it the wrong way and learning from that, rather than from reading books. I have found only a few books to be very useful.

But really I am a story-teller. I don’t write because I want to write, but because I have a story in my head that I have to get out. There are characters whom I want to make real. There are places I want to explore, to experience, if only vicariously, since most of them don’t exist in the real world. I have ideas for situations that present problems, and solutions that have consequences, and which, most importantly, offer growth. There are things which I want or need to learn about myself, which can only be done by creating an alternate reality and capturing it in a story.

So I am a writer. Because daytime fantasies about any of these things is ephemeral, and once thought, they just disappear. Sometimes I can’t remember much about the beginning of such a fantasy by the time I get to the end, which might take only a few minutes.

Most of my daytime fantasies go nowhere. They are fragments, though sometimes I indulge in them for years, but they are just smoke. It’s only when I can discover the story which lies behind those fantasies, or which connects those fantasies, or which fleshes them out that I become a writer, a creator, making something real out of nothing. It’s only by putting the words down, on paper, or on the computer, that makes them at all real.

Words on paper, after all, are real, even if the person or situation or place described is totally imaginary. Books are real, containing those vague ideas which have been developed and perfected (one hopes), and have been expressed in a way that makes sense to me later, and that (one hopes) may entertain anyone else who reads them.

It’s not the words on paper, it’s the story they tell which is important to me.