Now let’s come up with a prompt on what to write.
Everyone of us has a little voice deep inside that’s formed by our upbringing, experience, education and years of just slogging through life. That voice is what makes every one of us special with a unique view of the world. My voice is definitely whacky, off-balance, rude and often wicked. I think from my mother leaving me with friends when I was little. Her friends had a farm with big Rhode Island Red chickens and an Albanian gardener named Teedee who had no teeth. Teedee would take Tony down to the coop every morning to feed the chickens. Scared the living crap out of me since the chickens stood two plus feet tall and I was a tiny toddler. It was like being surrounded by bull elephants and it scarred me for life.
So that’s where my voice comes from, out of sheer panic at the thought of being pecked to death by tall chickens. Maybe check your own subconscious, see what you fear the most and I bet your voice will be snuggled right alongside. So once you grab a hold of the voice, then force it to look this way and that and make it tell you what it sees. And that’s what you write. It’s easy.
So here’s a prompt on how to write. Here’s the thing. Barbara O’Neal wrote it. “Writers write. They write and write and write and write, until they write themselves into their own understanding of who they are and what they bring to the page.” Took me fifteen years of write, write, write until I wrote myself into Tony Vanderwarker the writer and woke up to what I could bring to the page. I even quit for a couple years because I got dejected by seeing no light at the end of the funnel. When I’d finished my first book, I asked my brother what I should do and he said, “Write five more.” I wanted to punch him through the phone. He turned out to be dead wrong. It ended up taking me seven before the publishing gods smiled on me.
The prompt to end all prompts. Don’t bother trying to figure it out. Where you’re going or what your paydirt will turn out to be. Too much depends on stuff that’s way over the horizon, beyond your line of sight and your understanding. In a million years I couldn’t have imagined ending up where I am now. More than improbable, it was impossible—until it happened. Then it was, okay, well I didn’t quite expect to end up here but this is where I am–so be it. And the unexpected is half the joy of it. So let it happen. If you try to force it, you’ll make it go away. If you attempt to imagine it, you’ll get it wrong. So put the figure it out away and do you the know what. Give you a clue, it has five letters, okay?