Musings On Inspiration: Author Pat Brown
This week’s “Musing on Inspiration” features Canadian author Pat Brown. She wrote her first book at 17. She read her first positive gay book then, The Lord Won’t Mind, by Gordon Merrick, and had her eyes opened. After holding a host of jobs, at 40 she went back to school and became a network engineer, which eventually landed her on the shores of Bermuda where she spent 2 years learning how to drink rum swizzles and battle hurricanes. Back in Canada, she buckled down and started producing books seriously resulting in a multitude of books coming out in the next year. For more information about Pat and her work, check out her website.
TSC. How do you define ‘inspiration’ for yourself?
PB: I define ‘inspiration’ as the force that drives me to create something.
TSC. What do you think first inspired you to become a writer/artist? Can you identify a moment or experience or influence that turned you in that direction?
PB: The love of words inspired me. I would hear a story when my mother read to me, then later I would see the words on a page and it seemed magical that such simple words could create such wonderful things. When I realized I had the power to do that, I started scribbling my own thoughts down on paper. It was even later when I realized that people actually made money off those words.
TSC. Describe the ‘inspired’ you. What does he/she look or feel like?
PB: A little bit obsessive. Fanatical even. He tends to be preoccupied when writing. Not good company at all. He inspires people to leave me alone.
TSC. What is your most ‘inspired’ work? Why?
PB: I think my most inspired work is the one I’m currently polishing. It’s both more tragic and more complex than any previous work. Certainly my most ambitious. It goes beyond a crime novel or suspense. It’s most certainly not romance, though there are romantic elements in it.
TSC. Who or what or where is your muse? How do you invoke your muse? Rituals?
PB: No rituals. I think I invoke my muse by reading and letting my mind loose to explore. Thoughts come to me, I can examine them and let them feed my muse to come up with stories and characters. I’m really never more alive than my muse is going full out, feeding me ideas and images. I write like a fiend at those times, usually operating on very little sleep. I’ll even forget to eat.
TSC. What is your take on the notion that writing—or any creative work—is more about perspiration than inspiration?
PB: I think it is. Ideas are useless if you can’t or won’t put them down on paper. And that takes plain hard work. Plus, you can’t only write when the ‘muse’ strikes. Not if you want to have any kind of career as a writer. You need to operate under the pressure of a deadline and those don’t give you time to stroke the muse. You need to be able to write without it. It’s nice when he comes around and I probably write faster when he’s there, but I can write even if he’s not. So I think perspiration is a big part of creating something.
TSC. What do you think is the most common—or problematic—myth or misconception about inspiration?
PB: That it’s somehow magical. That it can’t be coaxed into being and it must always aspire to some lofty goal of literary purity instead of being content to write a good, rousing tale. And that you need it in order to write. A lot of ‘writers’ sit around waiting for their muse to come and when she doesn’t, they just don’t write. Which isn’t very professional.
TSC. What is the most ‘inspired’ work you’ve come across so far?
PB: I’d almost have to say The Lord of the Rings. It was like nothing I’d ever seen at the time. Of course it’s been imitated often, and usually not very well, but the original stands as a masterpiece of creativity.
TSC.. List a few tools or practices or methods that work reliably for you to get you in the mood to create. How do you shift into your ‘zone’?
PB: Sit down at my laptop. sometimes reading a good how to writing book helps focus my mind. Books such as The First Five Pages or Donald Maass’s Writing the Breakout Novel (and the Notebook that goes with it)
TSC. What are you currently feeling inspired to do?
PB: Finish writing barrio boyz, my latest work in progress and make it the best thing I’ve done to date.