Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Jarrett Rush- The Why Behind the Write

Out of the gate, I need to take a second and thank Sabrina for letting me steal a spot on her blog. It’s an honor, especially for an unknown like me.

When she asked me to contribute, I was flattered. Then I was nervous. What do I write about? What would people want to hear from me? So I asked Sabrina what she wanted. She said she’s always interested in why people write. So that’s what you’ll get here. OK?
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Ask some writers why they like to write and they’ll answer, “I write because I can’t not write.” That’s not me. For me, it’s always been easy not to write. You just don’t do it. And for a long time -- even though I’ve wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember – I didn’t write.

I told myself I was a writer. I would put together a few sentences every once in a while, but, as far as serious writing, I didn’t do it.

It wasn’t always that way. As a kid I wrote a lot. I didn’t write well, but I was prolific. It started in junior high and I had a little file of stories I wrote. The first was a story titled “The Man Who Made the Weapon.” A dreadful title. It was a fantasy story. I don’t recall anything about it, but I know at the time I was proud of it. I wrote other stories. All were amateurish and way over my head. I remember one line that I was going to use to start a story. “His obituary read like the end of a bad romance novel.” I was 12 and doubt I’d ever read an obituary and know I’d never read a romance novel.

I kept writing some in high school, mostly about a spy who lived above a diner in London. He liked dry toast and fried-egg sandwiches. Obviously a different time, since I don't know anyone now who would order a breakfast that includes four pieces of bread. This guy also liked his coffee hot and black. I didn’t drink coffee then. Don’t drink it now, but my characters still did.

Let’s fast forward through the next ten years or so. College. I’m working at the student newspaper and all my writing efforts go there. I was a reporter and was writing daily, all stories about new professors or tuition hikes. I graduate and go into newspapering as a career, and, by that point, I’m not writing much. Some, but not regularly. And that’s mainly because the first job I got wasn’t a writing job. I was editing instead.

About five years after graduating from college, I started to pick the writing back up again. I started writing regularly. I worked up a short story and actually thought it’s pretty good. I also realize that I liked the process of writing, editing, and finishing the story. I liked it, so I wrote more. And the more I wrote, the more I realized I enjoyed it. That’s why, since then, I’ve been writing. Not every day. I’m not one of those writers who has to write every day. I write when I can and try and make the best use of my time. But I do write, and write often. And I do it because it’s fun.

So, the answer isn’t something deep like “I can’t not write.” For me, it’s simple really. Writing is fun. That’s why I do it. Because I can sit behind a keyboard and create something from nothing. And when you can find a world or character that you really like, there is nothing better.

And speaking of characters and worlds you like, I think I’ve found both in the coming series of novellas that should be available starting in early February.

Everything takes place in the near future in a city called New Eden. It’s dirty and dark. The government has collapsed and left a vacuum that one big company, RomaCorp, is trying to fill. RomaCorp is like Wal-Mart on steroids, providing everything from bread to electricity.

The first set of stories will follow a pair of guys who are trying to help a challenger to RomaCorp rise up and grab a piece of the pie. Other sets of stories will follow other characters and be set in the same world. One of the distinguishing characteristics of the place is the use of data as a drug. It’s a technology that everyone calls “the wire.” It allows users to plug directly into a data feed. Like an ethernet cable you plug straight into your body.

This technology, and the ramifications of its use and abuse, is a big player in all of the stories. It’s an idea that blossomed from a phrase that came to me at work.

Don’t tell my boss, but I was at my desk and my mind started to wander for a minute. I started thinking about the phrase “bird on a wire.” I don’t know why. Then I thought maybe the phrase was “bird on the wire.” Then my mind wondered what would it mean if I were “on the wire.” My head spun for a few moments and I banged out this bunch of paragraphs.

“How long have you been on the wire?”

She was blonde, tall, and entirely fake. I could practically hear the servos fire when she batted her eyes.

She slid her long legs a bit closer and swirled her drink in her glass.

I grunted an answer and she asked me to repeat it.

“For as long as I can remember,” I said again and kept staring at our reflection in the mirror behind the bar.

“Oh, a lifer.”

“Practically.”

“Well, I hope you don’t mind me saying this, but you are very mature for someone who has been riding for that long.”

A flub in her language database programming. “I don’t think you mean mature. I think you mean old. And, yes, I am.”

A soft chuckle. “I suppose I do. You’re old for a lifer.”

I said that I guess I was old. “But I’m more careful than most,” I told her, and finally looked her way. She spun her legs to face me. “That would explain it,” she said.

“Yep.” I waved the bartender over with two fingers and he came quickly. I needed a refill.

That was the start. Even though none of that appears in any of the first novellas, everything was kicked off with that little five-minute burst of inspiration. I got other ideas. Ways to use the technology. What would be happening in the world I’d created. The kinds of characters who would live in this place and some of the stories they needed me to tell.

And that’s why I write. Because when you create a world you love and populate it with people who you are interested in, there’s nothing as fun as finding out where their stories go.


Jarrett Rush lives in Dallas with his wife, Gina, and their 1-year-old chocolate Lab, Molly. You can follow him on his blog at http://jarrettwrites.blogspot.com/ and on Twitter at @JarrettRush. His first book, Chasing Filthy Lucre, will be available in February, if not sooner.

For now you can access his short story Consider Us Even and get a sample of Chasing Filthy Lucre here.

Thanks Jarrett for being a guest on my blog.  You are AWESOME!

7 comments:

Christine said...

I commend you for recognizing your talent and for persevering with it. So many people don't follow those promptings of, "I wonder if I should/could." You comments are very creative and interesting. It sounds to me that you have a very bright and promising future. I will definitely look for your book coming out in February. Thanks for following Sabrina/Kate on her blog. She will stand by you and do all she can to encourage us to read your books. Her enthusiasm and support for writers/authors far exceeds anyone I've ever met. Thanks to both of you. Keep up the good work.

Sabrina E. Ogden said...

Christine-

You are very, very kind. Thank you so much for always stopping by the blog to visit and for leaving such encouraging comments.

Thanks for encouraging and supporting Jarrett, too! He's a good guy that is wanting to do something that he loves. I'm always amazed at how many there are just like him. I want them all to succeed and all I want to do is offer support.

Is it wrong to care so much for people you don't know? I consider them family...protective, proud. I feel their disappointed as much as I feel their joy.

Jarrett said...

Thanks, Christine. I didn't include it in the post, but, when I was talking with my wife before writing it, I remembered that in first or second grade a friend and I created a story about a horse named Weeds. I remember the horse's name but not the friend's. Anyway, I say that as proof that this is something I've wanted to do my entire life. Now, whether I have the talent to do it remains to be seen.

I do know, however, that it's not possible to succeed without the support of others, and I seem to have that in spades. I'm glad I can count Sabrina in the group of people who are wanting to see me succeed. It's especially important for those of us who are trying to go this alone, without the support of a big publisher. Kind words from people like her and like you put wind in our sails and keep us moving.

Adrienne said...

I like that you had him post about why he writes. I agree. That's pretty intersting. I'll have to find that short story. Thanks!

angelabarra99 said...

i cant wait to read this book...i got it on the computer :)

Jarrett said...

Hope you enjoy it, Adrienne and angelabarra99.

Sara said...

I am always inspired by people that are talented (and have enough patience) in ways that I only wish I were. Every time I read a book it feels like I am going on a mini-vacation...lately it is one of the only ways that I can relax and de-stress. So, thanks to you and all of the other authors and writers out there. I also have the book and I am excited to read it.