I can’t remember when I didn’t make up stories. When I was young I made up stories for my Lego men, Lilliputians fighting the fearsome giant Action Man from the decks of a model pirate ship; I’d make up friends to accompany me on world-spanning adventures to bring life to the barren fields of the Scottish Borders; I’d spin truth from lies to avoid getting in trouble with my parents.
As I grew up, or at least taller, the stories increased in complexity and I discovered the collaborative narrative possibilities of roleplaying games; I found internet communities of fellow storytellers who started me off writing narratives down instead of relying merely on the oral transmission of the tales; and of course there were always the lies to explain the absence of my homework.
For me, writing fiction is lying in a believable, engaging way that holds the attention of its intended audience and entertains them for the edification of the storyteller. It is a combination of inspiration, those little gems of life and dream sifted from the mundane, and craft. It is in the craft where most of the hard work resides, the continual learning of how to best use words and paragraphs to convey the concepts of the story to the audience. Craft is something that can be learnt, in fact writers never stop learning it. Everything we read, everything we write adds to the sum of our knowledge. Unfortunately what then happens is that everything we have written previously leaves a taste of ashen horror in our mouths, especially when we remember that we made others read what now appears to us to be the work of an amateur.
That is often the greatest challenge: Persevering and conquering the mountains of doubt.
Anybody who tells you otherwise is a liar.