This is not a writer’s block story, although, to some of you, it may seem as such. This is more of a “me talking to you about the way my brain has been processing stuff lately” kind of discussion between us writers.
I wrote a piece the other day about how I’d leaned in on my writing over the last nine months.
I’m not 100% sure of the proper use and connotation for this two-word twenty-first-century colloquialism, but I’m guessing it’s like getting up close and personal, right?
This morning I noticed something going on in my head with all this leaning in I’ve been doing.
A pattern if you will.
It usually starts with an idea for another Henry James series story. And then away I go, with thoughts of how the ending is going to take place. Yeah, I always try to formulate the conclusion of the story first.
Not to say, I haven’t got a basic outline or idea for the entire story, but I always try to cement that ending in my thoughts first. You know, take the Franklin Covey approach of starting with the end in mind.
Then I work backward, building the story events which justify the climax of the story.
During this process, depending on how long the Henry James piece takes (or becomes, sometimes the story grows its own legs and just, walks away) to write, the span can sometimes be as long as eighteen to twenty days.
During this time, my mental creative process becomes a literal mosh pit of wonderful ideas.
Not all of them about the Henry James piece I’m working on.
I’ll have bits and pieces of a song parody I’d like to try running through my thoughts. Or spin-off ideas about the life of a writer and this crazy, frustrating, fantastic business we’re all in. Reflections on a poem and usually, one of you fab writers out there will ping me for a writing prompt or two.
Creative Nirvana for sure.
It is genuinely such a glorious time. The ideas seem to flow like never-ending nectar, and I’m lapping them up and throwing them on the page as fast as I can, in the process, hammering out a ton of stuff.
Until I finish the Henry James story.
But even though I finish, I’ve still managed to build up a small backlog of creative juice to succor. It’s kind of like those last two swallows waiting for you at the bottom of that bottle of rosé.
Once you knock those off, you’re either going to have to stop for the night or grab another bottle. Or go to the store because you just drank your last bottle of wine in the house.
Yeah, it’s like that.
So, I’m able to forge ahead with a couple more stories before my creative thought train goes totally jiggy on me and trundles down the rails only to disappear into the fog-laden sunset.
And then I begin to think, “Oh wow, what am I going to write now?”
I bet each of you reading this right now are either nodding or laughing. Some of you are probably nodding and laughing and saying, “really P.G.? Dude, you’re talking about that mysterious myth/reality known as writer’s block. We all at some point think we’ve run out of things to write about.”
No, I’m not. I’m not talking about writer’s block.
I’m talking about writer’s confusion.
I know the next thing I want to write about is either in my head, my heart, or maybe on that piece of paper I crammed into the back pocket of my jeans the other day.
Durn it. I think I dropped those off at the cleaners.
Just as well, because although I know I’ll be writing something, I often find myself in a state of confusion as to how to get to it.
At this point, some of you may want to tell me it seems as if my muse has packed a suitcase and headed for the Bahamas. Truth is, I’ve never depended on a muse and don’t even know what he/she/it looks like.
Some of you may say I just need additional inspiration. Like the breath-taking moment when I see a zillion Monarch butterflies soaring into an azure blue sky.
Or, I don’t know, maybe a monster truck rally.
I get it, but unfortunately, that just ain’t how this old dawg rolls.
Now you’re all saying, “okay hotshot, then what is it?”
It’s the story, duh. I’m confused as to which direction I’m going to go with a story. Am I going to conjur up another Henry James, or should I lead off with a series of silly or serious poems? Maybe I should write about writing. I love to do that. Oh, I wonder what song parody I can do next?
I’m so confused.
There’s an old saying which goes something like this. You need to dance with the partner who brings you. Or in Texas terms, ya gotta run with the horse that brung ya.
I think all of you may have reached the logical conclusion here, folks. And as I wrote the paragraph above, I believe I did as well.
The great thing about being able to chat with all of you about my writing and my subsequent predicaments is it usually produces a spark of an idea, if not the complete answer.
Instead of sitting in my office, morose and feeling all alone, I get the opportunity to share my thoughts with all of you.
More importantly, I frequently have the opportunity of receiving kind words of encouragement or that all too necessary kick in the butt from all of you.
It’s really a beautiful writing community, isn’t it?
Am I still confused as to what’s going to be my next pitch?
A little bit, but I’m getting there.
As I edited this piece, the recurring theme even I picked up on is those moments I’m in the trenches battling it out with my characters and the storyline on a Henry James series.
That’s the point where my creative brain just happens to be firing on all cylinders.
So, I guess it shouldn’t be such a hard decision to make, after all, right?
Let’s keep in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org
© P.G. Barnett, 2019. All Rights Reserved.