I believe that 90% of creativity is putting in the work. Start with an idea and expand on it. It’s awful at first. Make revisions, additions, trim and polish, until the final product is a single piece of art that will dazzle and baffle and few will know how much work was put into it—most will assume your talent produced it without effort.
Take a kid and put them on a ball team. They are awful at first, but after a few years they are seen as brilliant, highly skilled in their craft. Few see the work it took to get there. Fewer realize the instincts and psychology involved, see the field and dugout as an environment where the most competitive on the team reap the rewards—the scores, the pats on the back, the cheers and scholarships and endorsements. No one stops to think about the team as a tribe, the players unconsciously, instinctively, vying for status through their athleticism and showmanship.
The kid you placed on the team decides to put the work in to be the best in that environment. They excel, driving themselves through endless repetitive movements that change the brain’s plasticity, forming a strong mind-muscle connection. Muscle memory consolidates. Their bodies become ball playing super robots.
Same with karate. Ballet. Same with . . . prison?
Throw a kid in prison. They are in a closed-in world of criminals. An extremely tribal environment with gang members competing against each other for rank and status within their own organizations, and the organizations themselves competing against each other.
The kid learns that very few keep their word, that lying is as natural as breathing to nearly everyone. They will lie to preserve the high value of criminal reputations… or to steal a ramen noodle. Some consider lying a kind of creative thinking; prisoners will fabricate a story so elaborate, of enormous length, just to out-wit another convict for the purpose of bragging rights—just so they can tell their pals they did it.
In this world of criminals, the ones who put the work in to become the best criminals enjoy the highest status. They get the nods of respect, the locker box full of canteen, their pick of the best contraband—the looks of fear that are even more valuable.
That kid, they put the work in and become the sharpest scam artist, the hardest working hustler of contraband, and build a reputation that demands respect from the toughest convicts and cannot be challenged by many.
They do this instinctively, within that very tribal environment, with a kid’s mind that’s physically incapable of processing the consequences; the area of the brain responsible for processing future consequences isn’t fully developed until a person is in their mid twenties.
Years go by, and that kid becomes a known criminal.
Then, one day, that kid isn’t a kid. They become aware of what happened—and they don’t want to be that person anymore. They don’t want to be known as a drug dealer. A crook. A freaking scam artist???
What the hell happened?
There’s no future in it. No family, no freedom. Only more prison.
But they were that person most of their life. The difficulties an adult criminal faces reinventing themselves are many. Those skills honed in illegal activities have to be repurposed. The transformation can take years.
It took me ten.
The discipline it took to stick to those illicit crafts and master them is . . . now the force behind my pen. The persistent studying of the art of writing from masters.
The years of creative energy invested in hustling people is . . . now used for crafting fiction. Used to perform an articulate live interview.
Dealing drugs, the ambition and guts it takes to be successful, the business at street level brought into prison and added to a smuggling operation, is . . . now business strategy for marketing my works—supply, demand, quality control, distribution, customer service, bookkeeping and networking.
I was awful at first.
Chris Roy is the author of Shocking Circumstances, Sharp as a Razor, and Her Name Is Mercie. He is a published tattoo artist (Rise Tattoo Magazine, ATC Tattoo Books app) and the illustrator of two children’s books. Raised in South Mississippi, he lived comfortably with the criminal ventures of his youth until a fistfight in 1999 ended tragically. Since January, 2000, he’s been serving a life sentence in the Mississippi Department of Corrections.
Nowadays he lives his life of crime vicariously, through the edgy, fast-paced stories he pens, hoping to entertain readers. When he isn’t writing, he’s reading, tattooing or looking for prospects to train in boxing.
You can find Chris on Twitter @AuthorChrisRoy and on his Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Chris-Roy/e/B00MF6LCHM
For more info on the author, visit: www.unjustelement.com
Reviews from the “Her Name Is Mercie” blog tour: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorChrisRoy/
Chris Roy on Off the Chain Radio: https://t.co/brwaz5KFPp?amp=1
Image courtesy of Pixabay, altered by Cartoonize.
2 thoughts on ““Writing Saved My Life” by Chris Roy”
a very moving account of a person coming into their worth. Mr. Roy has shown how the human spirit can be broken and then through shear grit and want, it can be repaired.