Since I wrote this post about a moment of great inspiration I wasn’t even aware of at the time (when I met Neil Gaiman in 1989), I’ve been hosting some guest posts from other writer friends where they share their moments of equally great inspiration. You can read all the posts so far under the Great Inspiration category here. It’s really cool to have these people share inspiring moments with us. Or not, in the case of Peter Watts. And Peter’s response made me realise that some readers might be a bit concerned if they couldn’t put their finger on a moment of equal importance in their own lives. As you can see from his comments below, you really needed worry about that. After Peter responded to my email, making me realise this potential angle, I asked if I could post his comments anyway, as an example to others that a moment of great clarity (even realised much later) is not actually necessary. I mean, this is Hugo Award-winning Peter Watts. Author of the Rifters and Blindsight (the seminal first contact novel.) So take heart:
Your email got me thinking– and oddly, I can’t think of anything in my life that proved especially pivotal or inspirational. I wanted to be a writer ever since I plagiarized 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea at the age of seven; I wanted to be a marine biologist ever since I stumbled across a friend’s 10-gal aquarium the year before. Ever since then, y trajectory’s been relatively unwavering.
I discovered the three brands of author most relevant to my own development (1 – How can this bozo be selling so well when he can’t write his way out of a goddamn fortune cookie?; 2 – Oh, I see how you did that, that’s brilliant. Now I know how to do it too. Too bad I can’t because you already did it first; and 3 – You told me exactly what you were going to do before you did it, and I thought you were crazy, and then you went ahead and did it and I still have no idea how you pulled it off.)
I think I may have petted William Gibson’s cat once (at least, I’m pretty sure it was Gibson’s doorstep the cat was sitting on). But there was no one-on-one meeting, no life-changing experience that set my course. I’d like to say that some Monty Python cutout God appeared in the heavens and told me I’d have to get a day job as a marine biologist before I could break out and become a midlist SF writer, but really, it was just kinda steady-as-she-goes.
No apology needed, Peter. That’s actually quite inspiring in itself.
Peter Watts is an outstanding author and fascinating guy. I highly recommend you read his full bio here, on his site, rifters.com