Hey Norm! I have always enjoyed reading but within the last year I have grown to love it. I am reaching out to you because I was wondering what gave you the inspiration. What writers/authors inspired you to become an author? What books specifically motivated you? What was the hardest part about beginning to write? (I'm talking the very beginning)
What books/authors (if any) can you recommend to me based on what I said above? I love your work and I do hope to see you again!
What gave me the inspiration to write?
I’ve always loved reading and loved making creative stories. I’ve always had a scary-fervent imagination, which has also gotten me in trouble! But since I was a little kid I wanted to create and share my art with the world. When I was in first grade we had an assignment to write a 3-page book, which was really just big drawings with a sentence the teacher transcribed for us, and then we stapled a cover on it. I made mine on dinosaurs eating planets or something or other and then made the cover but then kept cutting out construction paper and stapling and gluing, even when others were done. When the teacher came over to see what it was I handed her my book – but I had added a slot attached to the front cover with a library card that slid in. “Here, I said. “Now you can go show it to the principal and give it to the library to lend out.” So even as a little kid I wanted to create but I was giving my writing far more credit than it deserved! haha
As I got older I wrote and created less and just chased money and material things and became a god consumer and worker ant like everyone told me to. But that fire was still inside me, and it killed me not to do it. So one day I snapped and gave up absolutely everything in my comfortable, safe existence and said “F it, I’d rather write and die then not live.”
What writers/authors inspired you to become an author? What books specifically motivated you?
I always loved reading and used to write through high school and especially college. Most of it was horrible – I mean embarrassingly awful – sappy poetry and indecipherable hieroglyphs I wrote while high as a kite. But not until reading the Beat Generation writers – Kerouac and Ginsberg and Burroughs and such – did I realize that authors were just people who had wild experiences or stories to tell who committed them to the page, not some special class of super-academics born to write. I loved plenty of other books before but the Beats led me to realizing I could write, and they lead me to Charles Bukowski, still my favorite to this day. He was a drunk ugly bitter old man who told the truth like no one else, and I saw that if he could tell the truth in his stories of everyday people and skid row life, then so could I. And then a book by Ben Hamper – Rivethead – cemented my style as working class barroom no bullshit truth. That book probably did more to liberate me as a writer than any other.
What was the hardest part about beginning to write?
Writing. I’m not being a wise ass by saying that, but committing to sit down every day and put pen to paper and actually write something is the most important part about being a writer. You can think about it, observe, live life, get drunk, get high, be around other artists, read all the classics, etc. but the act of actually writing consistently is the one sacred and crucial act of being a writer.
That was very hard to come by for me (it took decades to tame that dragon) because I always held back. I wanted to the writing to be GREAT. I thought about what the reader would THINK when they wrote it. The less I wrote the more I crammed into one story/essay/piece. I was like a cluttered attic, and it took a long time to learn to organize and write one thing at a time without worrying about the outcome or judging myself against some ideal of literary perfection. Now, I look at writing like a pro baseball player being in the batting cage. Every day, take your 1,000 hacks to naturalize your swing, but you’re not watching where the ball is going or if someone caught it. Just write for the sake of writing. Committing to that practice and not self-judging was the hardest part.
What books/authors (if any) can you recommend to me based on what I said above?
You want to be entertained as a reader or you want to write? I can suggest the path I started on - Bukowski and On the Road and Rivethead and others, but from there you’ll find what you like and what you don’t. If you like a book and you’re feeling it, keep reading it, but if you don’t then put it down. That’s my advice. If you want to read about writing, read Stephen King’s On Writing. My advice to you would be to treat the act of writing with discipline and passion, but from there don’t follow any rules. Writing is just a conversation between you and the universe, and don't let anyone else interfere or tell you what's right or wrong. Just flow and vibe and do whatever the hell feels right and don’t worry about cleaning up the lava.
I love your work and I do hope to see you again!
Well, I guess there’s no accounting for taste! Hahaha. Thanks Case – love ya and I know I’ll see ya real soon somewhere in the world and it will be epic!