Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Writer, Be Stoked

This is what stoked me out as a writer- an oil
painting of the main character, Watanabe
Kenjiro, from my book Ghost of Iga. It was
painted by my friend Jason Cheeseman-
Meyer, and if you want to stoke him out,
you'll go to his website and check out his

If you're a surfer, then you know in your gut what being stoked is. You also know what an ephemeral experience it can be and how stubbornly it defies quantification. If you don't surf and you don't know, then I'll try and lay it on you: Stoke is an aggregate emotion consisting of a sense of mental connection and technical accomplishment, fused with unbridled joy and a certainty that what you've just done and what you may yet do are completely worthwhile, for the simple reason that you are doing it. There is no formula for stoke, unless it's You get what you give. If you don't meet it halfway, it'll ditch your ass in a hot second.

Believe me, I've surfed well in what some would call perfect conditions and had a miserable time. No stoke at all. And I've surfed knee-high slop with my friends and left the water beaming. I've also seen some really great surfers who sit in the lineup looking like they just drank the water out of a sewer pipe, and who nail every wave they want and never once smile. Of course, the reverse of all this is true as well. You get what you give.

So what does this have to do with writing? Everything. As writers, we all have a set of ideal conditions and a list of goals in our mind- money, fame, a sweet publishing deal, critical recognition, wide readership, whatever. Maybe they happen, maybe they don't. The few I listed are long shots for most writers- That's just how it is. However it turns out though, you should constantly seek a reason to be stoked. Otherwise, you should probably be doing something else.

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