Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Words without thoughts never to heaven go

...perchance to dream

Sometimes it's as simple as a picture. A video. A song. Something leaps out at you and your brain latches on to it, churns it over and over letting it tumble through your head, sometimes without you even being aware of what's going on. Later, it will explode. It will come flying out of your mouth, or your hands and there will be birth, creation.

It happened the other day. I was glibly cruising the internet when my husband started watching a video. My chair inadvertently slid over to his side of the room and there I was leaning in to his shoulder watching it with him.

I went back to my computer and that was that. I thought. Then for some reason it reminded me how I'd been reading Pixar's 22 rules of storytelling, which I referenced in my last post. It took about two hours before the two elements smashed together and I could swear there was even a big bang inside my head. I ran in to my husband from doing the dishes, as is the perfect time to have inspiration wash over you, and said, "Ooh ooh, I know what I'm going to do about my book!"

As I told him one thought, 12 more seemed to just hop right out of me in succession and then my brain jumped to my previous manuscript, waiting to be edited, and went nuts on that one too. Crucial problems I had been mulling over for a few months now. That coupled with my ideas that would have improved my first novel (you can buy it!), and I had suddenly become infused with a shock of ideas. As an aside, I believe 'shock' is the official word for many ideas gathered together. I believe it, that doesn't make it true, just true enough for me.

Which brings me to this. I have noticed that many people ask a certain question when you tell them you are a writer: Do you write every day? I am always befuddled by this question. My inner guilt monster needles me and wants me to answer definitively, 'Yes! Yes I do.' Which isn't true. So I often lamely proclaim, "I try". Which is silly. The truth is, I do not live in a bubble. I have this whole life thing going on and there are times when I sit down to write and have nothing to say or too many issues to solve that forcing myself to write one sentence or ten or whatever the magic number in anyone's head might be, is insanely unproductive. A lot of times I read. I feed the beast so to speak. Other times I prefer to busy myself with that life around me while thinking. I mull over minutia, I question intent and direction, I daydream my worlds into life, I ask myself what would my character do and work at not answering what I would do.

You know how reading a book can possess you? Pull you into its world and hold you there? Make you believe it is real? It's magical. To make something that will draw the reader into that state, there first must be a dream. I go through the world around me with my head in the clouds. I've done that all my life. So, either I could continue to be half of something else while dreaming, or I could be a writer and let the dreams live.

I wish I wrote every day. I wish I could say I'm a dedicated, disciplined super-star writer. But I'm not so sure that writing every day is criteria for that anyhow. I am realizing that creating a fully flushed out story is not just about clacking away at the keyboard. That is one small element to the whole process. From beginning to end there is so much more. Even on levels unrealized, writing can happen while doing the dishes.

From now on I will answer this question with one sentence: I dream every day.

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meno said...

I'm weary of writing as a competitive sport. The only good definition of a writer is someone who writes.

Lynnea said...

Meno, right on the nose. I used to be afraid to call myself a writer or an author. I've gotten over that. I write, it's what I do.