Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Problem Of Being A Writer

Ideas are the ethereal product of the greatest machine in known creation! The mercurial result of rapidly firing synapses, devoid of form or function in their purest state! We herd them and corral them, turning these wild imaginings into beasts of burden...Words! Yolked with meaning and assigned importance they convey what they once were to others! Whether to enrich or poison, erect or raze, they traverse the space between minds and change the landscape! This is the goal of the writer. And this is his greatest obstacle!

I imagine that writing a novel is not unlike telling someone about a dream you had last night! Or rather, that's the feeling I get as I sit here avoiding putting actual effort into writing a novel! The idea is there... the shape of it though, despite being in your head, is still somewhat murky but, you've got a feel for its borders. Now how to fill in the rest of it! It's never in the right order. The first part last, the last part somewhere in the middle. Always going back and having to say, "but before that [This and That other thing] happened!" It's exhausting! Painting pictures in someone elses mind with words! Words, which like great stallions refuse to be so easily broken. How does one rein in this herd of words, train them to march in step and follow the trail of a story?  And forget about dialogue... I'm no impressionist, I'm a photo-realist! I don't care what you want to see...I'm telling you what I see and I can't do that with less than 300 words about the grass swaying in the field, golden sunlight refracting off the dew tipped blades, like thousands of diamonds casting their prismatic light back into the sky from whence it came... a rainbow field of dreamlike majesty bidding an as yet faceless/nameless/purposeless traveller welcome! And when I finally do write the characters' spoken words they all sound like my own. But they shouldn't! Now, not only do I have to send my tamed thoughts across the void to fulfill their purpose in your mind, but I have to inhabit someone elses, even if it's only for two or three seconds at a time, so I can say what they would say in the way they would say it...and not just any mind, a mind I have created, corpus in absentia! I am a god to people who don't exist, who aren't aware that I exist... nor should they be, I'm not writing a Deadpool comic!

I've sat with scraps of paper spread out before me... picking and choosing the things I like, and those passages I want to keep! Never quite discarding the rest, but keeping it as reference material for other things. My lead character looks like this...they should be in a place like that...but at a different point in the story. One sentence in a hundred may ultimatley make the cut...but it's a doozy! And all this time I've spent, plumbing the depths of my imagination, and there's no Will Smith! (wow...that's a pretty tangential reference to "Nod Ya Head") No clear vision of a hero! Murky, cloudy, nebulous inklings of what he might be and why! Thank God I'm not creating some made-up language for them to speak! Sure, I'm not as good as Tolkein (mad props BTW), but that's not the point! I have a story to tell and I don't know how or where to start! Ugh! The start... the bane of my existence! First words, like first impressions...they set the tone, they draw you in toward a reading rubicon, the point at which you feel the need to finish all or part of the story! I have no first words... they elude me... run from me like they stole something! Stole my dreams perhaps, my dreams that I would do something worth doing! Something respectable... potentially an entire body of work, stolen by first words! I hate them so, for being just out of reach!

So here I sit, distracting myself with snippets of thought, directed at hating Nancy Grace, or Wikipedia being a measure of success, unable to harness my wagon to the thoughts running wild in my head! Writing my novel, less like riding a horse with a saddle, more like riding an angry bull! Eight seconds at a time... one paragraph/ one sentence/ one word at a time! But when I have tamed this mighty chimeric Leviathan, I hope you'll find it a much more enjoyable ride! Also, that it won't take you nearly as long to finish as it's taking me!

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