• Time on your side

    27 July 2010

    It's been a busy start to the week. I wrote 14 pages of the new book on Monday! That's a lot, even by my terms, but I knew I wouldn't be able to put in a full week this week, because I have to go looking at floorboards and tiles for the house on a couple of days, so I was keen to do as much as I could. Today I only wrote 7, then it was off to the shops to do some tiles scouting. Definitely not as much fun as writing, but it has to be done! I also squeezed in an email interview for the Irish Post. Not sure when it will see print, but I'll try to inform you guys when it does.

    I received the following email from Adam more than a month ago. I meant to reply to it before this, but time slipped away from me! Anyway, better late than never, right?!?

    Dear Darren, first of all i would like to say how much i have loved your books. I began reading them with the Darren Shan saga after seeing Vampire Mountain in a book store. After reading the blurb i found the story was to my liking and quickly sought out the previous books so I could begin the story. After the Darren Shan saga i moved onto the Demonata series and also loved this series. The main reason for my e-mail is to ask if you could offer any tips for a wannabe writer. I have wanted to write since the age of 6 and now that I am 20 have realised I'm stuck in a rather boring and unenjoyable university course ( civil and structural engineering ). I feel i have a lot of creativity when writing and often find a single word can spurn an entire chapter of a story I will write. I have never written professionally but would love to make a career out of it. I do not wish to steal your trade secrets, I am simply asking if you have the time if there is any advice you can offer me. I love writing more than anything else and have read thousands of books. My reading material also varies massively as along with your books i also read every goosebumps book as a child, however now that i am 20 i enjoy books like Robert Jordan's wheel of time series and Steven Kings The Dark Tower series and basically any book i can get my hands on. writing for me is not about money, it honestly isn't, although I am only 20 money has never been an issue with me. I'm not saying I have it, I simply mean it is not something i make an issue out of. I wish to write so that I can spend my life doing something I love. I find myself often jotting down poems or even song lyrics and to maybe reveal a more personal side to me I have been known to write poems for my girlfriend to cheer her up when she is down.

    To return to my point, writing is all I have ever wished to do and due to pressure from my parents I have found myself on a career path I did not intend. I have finally decided that I must do something about this and am considering quitting university to pursue a career as an author. As a child you were a great inspiration to me and I enjoyed your books and honestly still do, only the other day i picked up Vampire mountain which i always consider my favourite book of yours as it was the first one i read even though it was number 4 in the series. I understand that you may not have time to reply to this email as you have mentioned on your site but I would greatly appreciate it if you could find the time to offer any words of wisdom or advice for someone who I'm sure was once in your position. Thanks for taking the time to read this email and I offer you all the best wishes for the future. Keep up the good work I love your writing and hope to read more from you soon.

    I would never advise anyone to drop out or stick with a course or a job or anything else -- that's a decision each individual must make for him or herself. What I will say is that, when you're 20, time is very definitely on your side! Most writers take quite a lot of years to develop to the point where their work is good enough to be published. It's not like a musician, who can peak in their teens or early 20s. Very few writers ever write anything of note before their mid-twenties -- and the vast majority are 30-plus before they start to hit their stride. You usually have to be very patient in this business! So in general I'd caution against rushing your decisions. You have the freedom to roll along in life for a while, to grow as a person, to build up experiences which you can later use in your stories. I decided at a very early age to throw myself into writing. I cut myself off from the world and dedicated myself to my work. Clearly it worked out for me, and I made the breakthrough a lot quicker than most writers, but it wasn't an overly happy time for me. I think many writers might lose heart if they put themselves through what I endured. Don't be afraid to have fun, to try different things, and to write in your spare time. If it's what you truly want, you'll find yourself spending more and more time on your stories. Let it be a gradual, natural progression. You don't have to force yourself to rush. Unless, of course, you absolutely feel that you have to, as I did. In any event, go with what your heart tells you, but use your head a bit as well...

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