Insight into an a writer’s mind from Arthur C. Clarke

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“There is no way of demonstrating that a writer is neglecting his job; even his snores are deafening, his subconscious may be hard at work.”

– Sir Arthur C. Clarke

Arthur C Clarke in his home office in Sri Lanka
Arthur C Clarke in his home office in Sri Lanka (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Arthur C. Clarke is on of the greatest science-fiction writers of all time along with Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein. He is most well known for 2001: A Space Odyssey and Rendezvous With Rama.

I couldn’t tell you the number of Clarke novels that sit on various bookshelves throughout my house. I’d say there are more than twenty. During my teenage years and then during my early twenties while I dealt with health problems stemming from a car accident, I spent countless hours helplessly lost in the worlds and solar systems that inhabited Clarke’s novels.

He is one of the reasons why I began writing many years ago — although the only bit of science fiction I’ve written was last week, The New Moon. If you read it, it does take a chapter of out Clarke’s storywriting book.

Sometimes during winter months, I pick up a series of books that I’ve read in the past to get lost in while it’s cold outside. Two years ago, it was the Eragon trilogy by Christopher Paolini. Last year, it was the Heir to the Empire Star Wars series from Timothy Zahn.

This year, it is the Rama series.

After finishing Rendezvous with Rama, I picked up the sequel published twenty years later, Rama II. The quote from Clarke above is in the Introduction to the book.

When I read it (for probably the third or fourth time in my life) it struck a chord with me. It resonated. As I delve more and more into writing, I find myself — much to my wife’s annoyance — awake at night, running phrases, paragraphs, sentences and ideas through my head.

Many times, that leads to me giving up on going back to sleep, going downstairs and pecking away at a keyboard before the sun rises.

However, when I am able to put on a screen the words formed in my head during sleep, that often turns out to be my best work.


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