I’m extremely happy to welcome short story writer Nik Perring, co-author of Freaks, to the blog today. I’ve asked him to share some of the inspirational flashes he’s had on his writing journey, when the world became suddenly brighter. Here’s what he has to say:-
I’ve had a few light bulb moments in my writing career, and all of them have been important and I’d like to share a couple of those with you today. I hope they help.
The first important one, I think, was the moment I got published and paid for my work. It was the back end of 2003 and I was twenty-two and wondering whether I could ever be good enough to do this writing thing properly. I’d sent something off to a magazine and – I couldn’t believe it – the editor called me to tell me he wanted to use the piece and pay me for it. Knowing I was good enough was huge.
The second one, and the one I think I’ll always remember as the most important, came a few years later. I was aware and happy that it was fiction, and more specifically, short stories, that I wanted to write. By then I’d had a good chunk of things published in newspapers and magazines, in journals – I even had a book for children out. One day I read some of Aimee Bender’s work, and then, a little later, some of Etgar Keret’s. And bang! I felt as though I’d come home because reading those things made me realise that I could write all those things I wanted to write, and it made me realise that, not only was I allowed to, but that those kinds of stories could be published. And I can honestly say that I think that’s where Not So Perfect came from. So, folks DO read widely – you may be surprised.
Another light bulb moment happened subtly. It wasn’t the bright neon flash that the previous two I’ve mentioned were, it was slow and I’m not sure I noticed it happening. And it was this: I realised that it was exceptionally important to not try to sound like a writer. The moment I stopped trying so hard, I started to sound like myself. I think the stories I wrote (and am writing now) came more naturally to me, and I think they read more naturally too. And, ironically, they read like they were written by a writer. A real, proper one. So, folks, don’t be afraid of your own voice – it’s the most distinctive and instinctive thing you have at your disposal. The trick is to be brave enough to use it. And being brave is good.
Nik Perring lives in the UK where he writes, mostly, short stories. His work’s been published widely in many fine places. It’s been collected in the books Not So Perfect (Roast Books, 2010) and in Freaks, co-written with Caroline Smailes and published by The Friday Project (HarperCollins) in 2012. Nik blogs at http://nikperring.com and tweets as @nikperring and would love for you to say hello.