Writers are often asked what inspires them to write and how they even think of the things that they write about. Well, from my view of the world, nobody seems to epitomize the writer’s journey more than Mark Twain.
We’re all familiar with Huckleberry Finn, at least we should be – I think I’ll sit down and cry if anyone who has any sort of education is not aware of this Mark Twain classic! Anyway, even if you know of this and other works by Mark Twain, you probably do not know the full extent of his life story and all the experiences that in the end seemed to help mold him into the writer he was throughout his life and guide many of his creative works.
Well, I was as much in the dark about the extent of Mark Twain’s journey as a writer, and human being, until I watched the PBS special on his life and writing career. Here’s the link:
You may also want to peruse the Wikipedia entry at the link below:
And, like me, you just might want to re-read his books you’ve already read and then expand into the many stories that you didn’t know he wrote such as “Pudd’nhead Wilson” which is talked about in the PBS documentary but often cited as a work that Twain wrote to stave off bankruptcy so this work is often characterized as having a rough organization about it. Of course, there’s always The Prince and the Pauper which has a similar theme of children from extremely different backgrounds being switched to illustrate the differences in society.
So, Mark Twain had challenges on the family front, on the writing front and even on the financial front, something I think most writers can understand. It’s ironic that many of the great writers often had really, really devastating things happen to them in life but I think it’s the aspect of their personalities where they feel and see things more deeply than perhaps others do that makes them great writers. After all, in many ways, the best writers are also people who are great observers of life around them.
Do take a moment and follow Mark Twain’s journey and the next time your computer acts up, you’re bummed about your listing on Amazon, or you have to do more re-writes, just remember Twain’s story. It’s a source of both inspiration and gratification that most of our writing challenges tend to be small compared to his.