"Hi, my name's Ben, and I'm a writer."
It seems like such a simple statement, right? Especially if you breeze through this website, you'll see a fairly good-sized body of work (and I haven't put anywhere near everything on here). I've got an IMDB page. I've had things produced and performed. You can buy my books on Amazon. I've made a decent amount of money off of my writing.
And yet here's the truth:
Despite the fact that I've written over a dozen screenplays (some of which have won multiple awards), and I've written five full length novels (with several more in the works), and I've written one full length play and at least a half dozen short ones, and I've written literally hundreds, if not thousands, of comedic sketches and shorts-
I still sometimes hesitate to call myself a writer.
I get nervous. I feel like a fraud. I don't feel worthy.
And it's time to get over it.
The fact of it is, though, being a writer is the one thing I've been thinking about for nearly my entire life. I'm okay at sports. I'm a really good actor. Any job I've ever done, I've always risen to the top and brought great value to my team. Yet I keep coming back to writing. I'm always thinking of new ideas, I'm always planning a new book, I'm constantly drafting new scenes for my latest script.
I'm a writer. It's a fact. And I gotta own it.
That's what I want to do primarily with this blog. I want to chronicle my writer's journey from someone who shies away from admitting my passion to someone who takes myself seriously as a professional and an artist. My biggest challenges have been treating myself as a business that truly has a spectacular worth. And that's going to end now.
Over the next months and years, I'm going to explore all of the avenues out there to market my work, so that I can grow and flourish. I'm going to test out different social media and dig into tricks of the trade. I'm going to venture out of my comfort zone (even though just typing that makes me nervous...). And I'm going to share any insights with anyone who might be willing to read it.
Sometimes I'll be commenting and sharing technical stuff that I learned (cough *stole* cough) from someone else.
Sometimes it'll be more like I'm journalling and trying to pump myself up.
I suspect there's many other people out there who are like me who struggle with their self-worth (despite being pretty freaking awesome), and think that it's CRAZY to presume to dare to imagine that we could be writers.
Well, we're not crazy. And we're totally worth it.
So I'm going to take my first steps, and fight against that twist in my gut and that nagging voice at the back of my head, and I'm gonna to keep working to proclaim my truth:
My name's Ben, and I'm a damn good writer.
I've got a little spoiler alert.
J.K. Rowling didn't go to Hogwarts. She's not a witch. She's never swigged Felix Felicis.
But, wait... if she's never ridden a broomstick or sipped a butterbeer at the Three Broomsticks then how did she concoct such a vibrant and colorful world? How did she tap into the mystical arts of potion-making, wandlore, and divination? How did she stir up a rich fantasy world that sustained seven books and will probably be cherished for decades (if not centuries) to come?
It's simple. She wrote what she knows.
For J.K. Rowling, at the time when she was writing the first Harry Potter books, she was a school teacher and her closest relationship was with her child. She knew kids and what made them tick. She had also been to boarding schools and she knew that world. She knew classic literature and mythology. She loved mysteries and knew how to craft a compelling one at the core of each of her kids books. As a result, she's created beloved magic despite not possessing a real phoenix feather of her own.
One of the earliest pieces of advice that all writers get is: Write what you know.
But what if what you know isn't that interesting? Or that exciting? Or it just doesn't inspire you? What if you've never travelled to space, or a fantasy world, or even another state? What if your life has just consisted of school, a safe job, and a comfy house in the suburbs.
Perfect! Write what you know!
I choose to write epic fantasy novels about kings, wizards and magical kingdoms.
But I don't live in medieval times. I've never ridden on a dragon or had a swordfight. I'm not even British!
Instead, I've worked a handful of 9 to 5 jobs, I live in a nice apartment, and I've got a wonderful wife and two great cats.
I do know adventure, though. My favorite books usually involve some sort of swash-buckling hero overcoming some dastardly villain despite incredible odds (if you haven't read the book version of "The Princess Bride," go do so right away). I can break down the reasons why the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie works while its sequels don't work as well (it comes down to Jack Sparrow being an unconventional sidekick in the first movie and then being forced to be an unconventional protagonist in all of the rest). And I understand why the King Arthur legends are so enduring even though I've never visited Stonehenge.
Too often, I think writers squeeze themselves into a box, because they're trying to keep up with their area of expertise or "what they know." Just because you're not a lawyer doesn't mean you can't write courtroom dramas - you just have to understand themes of crime and justice. It doesn't matter if you're in your 60s - you can write YA novels if you're still a teenager at heart. Not everyone who writes space adventures has to be an astronaut.
If we dig deep into our hearts and into our imaginations and I think we'll be surprised what we know.
And that's where great stories and great writing starts.
We just have to write what we know.