Well, today’s post was going to be about inspiration. However, my muse wanted to re-iterate that inspiration works in mysterious ways; so just as I was about a quarter of the way through, I was forced to abandon that post and write this one instead. Enjoy!
Despite the title and the somewhat misleading image directly above, I’m not actually talking about Camp Half-Blood or Camp Jupiter. Though, now that I’ve written that, they are a remarkably good metaphor for what I’m about to write about. . . so let’s use them, shall we?
Warning: Text-heavy post ahead!
If you’re familiar with Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians and Heroes of Olympus series, you’ll know that Camp Half-Blood is the camp for Greek demigods and Camp Jupiter is the camp for Roman demigods. However, their differences are greater than just who their respective godly parents are: Each camp has a different core philosophy, and staunchly sticks by it no matter what. This naturally causes some contention between the camps. Likewise, there are two generalized “camps” to the whole writing books business, and even though they are related, they sometimes don’t get along very well.
The first camp consists mostly of those who are either a) new to writing or b) still view writing as a romanticized and idealized business. These writers dreamily follow the muse and view disciplined writing either with disdain or horror or, occasionally, a wry “Wouldn’t that be nice”/”I should do that. . . but I won’t” sort of attitude. They write in great spurts with long dry spells when inspiration dries up, as it inevitably must, only to have it sparked again by some unrelated activity several weeks later.
They very well might write an entire book by the seat of their pants, without giving much thought to plot or characterizations or even making sense until the first draft is finished and they start the whole dratted editing business. They might or might not have messy workplaces heaped with random newspaper clippings, inspirational pictures, half-filled notebooks of ideas, and copious amount of coffee and/or chocolate.
Incidentally, many people of both camps force themselves to finish a 90,000 word novella in the space of a month using this method every year, but I digress. . . .
I think of this group as akin to Camp Half-Blood.
Writers belonging to this camp jump into (or are thrown into) the business without knowing what happened, train as a necessity rather than through having any desire to, and appreciate the cleaning harpies coming by every once in a while. They also have a lot of fun with their chosen (or thrown-into) career, and don’t worry about things like editing until they need to. I usually belong to this camp, as writing without the muse looking over my shoulder makes it seem remarkably like work. . . .
The second camp consists mostly of those who a) have settled comfortably into the business of writing or b) need to make a living. They are disciplined, have well-managed schedules, and view seat-of-the-pants method with either disdain or horror or, very occasionally, a wry “Those lucky dogs”/”Ah, I remember when writing was that fun” sort of a way. They produce a modest amount of work every workday (whichever day that may be for them), make deadlines (and keep them!), and appreciate inspiration but do not go out of their way to include in in their creative process.
They probably plot out entire books before putting pen to paper, have logical characters, and view editing as just another goal that must be accomplished (and then do it remarkably well). They probably have neat workplaces that only need tidying every few weeks or, at the very least, an organized file system on their computer (if they type their stories) or in notebooks (if they hand-write them). They might still need copious amounts of coffee and/or chocolate.
I liken this group to Camp Jupiter.
These campers (er. . . writers) are disciplined, attack their goals with well-thought-out plans, and reap the rewards of being well-trained and patient. As a result of their preparedness, the writing/editing process is generally smooth aside from the hiccups that plague all writers. I sometimes briefly belong to this camp, usually when I’ve convinced myself that fully plotting out the story and fleshing out the characters means no editing. (Wouldn’t it be nice if that were true?)
Because of their differences, I’ve seen the two camps debate heavily over which method is best, with valid points noted on both sides. However, they are more alike then they realize: Both groups have the same calling. Both groups hope to make a living at it (or do make a living at it). And both frequently fight the monsters of writer’s block, bad assignments/stories, and plain old bad days.
Now, I realize that these are the two extreme examples of the camps in the writing business. I’m sure that there are writers who take the best bits of both methods and use them to their advantage and others who, like me, waffle indecisively between the camps. There are yet others who try to make the peace between both camps (though hopefully not as. . . forcefully. . . as Hera/Juno did in the Heroes of Olympus). There are others, though, that unyieldingly support one side or the other. Either way or all ways are fine, in my book; just please don’t expect me to suddenly abandon Camp Half-Blood in favor of Camp Jupiter, except for those times when the no-editing ideal has lured me in.
So. . . which camp do you belong to?