Sunday, July 10, 2011

Burning Out as per Clive Barker's Advice

Back in November 2009, the AHWA held an online chat for its members with Clive Barker, one of my literary heroes (The Books of Blook volumes 1-6 are amongst my prized possessions). I asked Clive what advice he could give new writers and this was his answer:

"I can certainly throw out some observation about the process of creating which may be of use. Firstly, it's the best & the worst of worlds, because the only fuel you have to make the fire blaze on the page / screen is the stuff of your own being. An artist consumes his or herself in the act of making art. I can feel that consumption even now, sitting here at my desk at the end of a working day. In order to generate the ideas that I have set on the page for the last 10 or 11 hours I have burned the fuel of my own history. This is, obviously a double-edged sword. In order to give, the artist must take from himself. That's the deal. And it's very important to me that the work I do is the best I can make it, because I know what is being burned up to create. As the villain of Sacrament says: "living & dying, we feed the fire."
So in true Barker fashion, I burned myself out last night. I had the house to myself and my shifty sideshow freak of a muse dragged me through hell in order to pull this cursed story from within me. I ended up with a little over 3000 words, most of which I still like today. The story needs work, sure, that's only to be expected, but it's the first short story I've written since October last year (Desert Blood, published in Dead Red Heart).

It felt great burning out like that, giving it my all until I was worn through and could barely make it to bed. Such a sense of satisfaction and achievement.


Angeline said...

I am also a big fan of Clive Barker (in fact, being introduced to him was the only good thing an ex did for me)
What a true sentiment; everything you ever write really is a piece of yourself, and to write well, I think you have to give everything you have.